Home  »  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases  »  A hair of the dog to A man, like

W.C. Hazlitt, comp. English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases. 1907.

A hair of the dog to A man, like

A hair of the dog that bit you.
Another drop of the liquor upon which you got drunk last night.

  • “And to the hostler by mornyng by daie
  • This felow calde, what how felow, thou knaue,
  • I praye the and my felow haue
  • A heare of the dog that bote vs last night.”—HEYWOOD.
  • I suspect that in Heywood’s time, this expression had two senses, a serious and ludicrous, that is, it was firmly believed that by applying a hair of the dog, given by the owner, that had bitten one to the sore in a particular way, it would heal it; and thence the phrase derived its other meaning, which is the only one remaining in much force at the present time. See Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 297.

  • Will Summers.
  • A halter and a rope for him that will be pope
  • without all right or reason.
  • A handful of good life is better than a bushel of learning. H.

  • Mieux vaut un poigne de bonne vie,
  • Que plein muy de clergie. Fr.—RAY.
  • A handful of trade is a handful of gold.

    A handsaw is a good thing, but not to shave with.

    A handsome-bodied man in the face.

    A handsome hostess is bad for the purse.

    A hangman is a good trade, he doth his work by daylight.

    A hard beginning maketh a good ending. HE.

    A hard-fought field, where no man escapeth unkilled. C.

  • A hard thing it is, I wiss,
  • to judge a thing that unknown is.
  • Reliq. Antiq. (from a MS. 15th Cent.)

    A hare may draw a lion with a golden cord.

    A harlot’s face is a painted sepulchre.
    Nixon’s Strange Foot-Post, 1613, sign. B 3.

    A hasty man never wants woe. C.
    Olla que mucho hierre, sabor pierde. Span.—RAY.

    A hat is not made for one shower. H.

  • The shape of a good greyhound.
  • A head like a snake, a neck like a drake,
  • a back like a beam, a belly like a bream,
  • a foot like a cat, a tail like a rat.
  • A headstrong man and a fool may wear the same cap.

    A heaven upon earth.
    Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (repr. Roxb. Lib. 191).

    A heavy purse makes a light heart.
    Wely Beguiled, 1606 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, ix. 221).

    A high building, a low foundation. C. and CL.

    A hog in armour is still but a hog.

    A hog that’s bemired, endeavours to bemire others.

    A hog upon trust, grunts till he’s paid for.

    A honey tongue, a heart of gall. C.
    Boca de mel coraçon de fel. Port. Palabras de santo y uñas de gato. Span.—RAY.

  • A honny tongue, a hart of gall,
  • Is fancies spring, but sorrowes fall.
  • The Nymphs Reply to the Sheepheard. (England’s Helicon, 1600, repr. 1807, p. 215.)
  • A hood for this fool, to keep him from the rain.
    The XXV. Orders of Fooles (circa 1570), apud Ancient Ballads and Broadsides, Philob. Soc. 1867, p. 128.

    A hook’s well lost to catch a salmon.
    Il faut perdre un veron pour pecher un saumun. Fr.—RAY.

    A hop on my thumb. HE.

    A horn heard soon, though hardly seen.

    A horse foaled of an acorn.
    The gallows.

    A horse is neither better nor worse for his trappings.

    A horse kiss.

    A horse made, a man to make. H.

    A horse of a different colour.
    A different matter. Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, ii. 3, has: “My purpose is indeed a horse of that colour.”

    A horse stumbles, that hath four legs. H.

    A horse that will not carry a saddle must have no oats.

  • A horse that will travel well,
  • a hawk that will fly well,
  • a servant that will wait well,
  • and a knife that will cut well.
  • Written in a coeval (or nearly coeval) hand on the fly-leaf of a copy of The Grete Herbal, edit. 1561. See Notes and Queries, Jan. 2, 1869.

  • A hot May
  • makes a fat church hay. Cornw. etc.
  • In 1569–70 was licensed to Thomas Colwell a ballad entitled:
  • “A mery milde May
  • Wherein ys vnsiphored how all thynges decay.”
  • A hot temper leaps over a cold decree.
    Merchant of Venice, 1600.

    A houndless man comes to the best hunting.

    A house built by a man’s father, and a vineyard planted by his grandfather.

    A house built by the wayside is either too high or too low.

    A house filled with guests is eaten up and ill spoken of.

    A house ready made, but a wife to make.

    A house well furnished makes a good housewife.

    A huge loss.
    Ironically.—Walker’s Parœm. 1672, 27.

    A humble-bee [or beetle] in dung thinks himself a king.

    A hundred tailors, a hundred weavers, and a hundred millers, make three hundred thieves.

    A hungry horse maketh a clean manger.
    A la hambre no hay pan malo. Span.—RAY.

    A hungry kite sees a dead horse afar off.

    A hungry man is an angry man.

    A hungry man smells meat afar off.

    A Huntingdon sturgeon [a donkey].
    “This day [22nd of May, 1667] coming from Westminster with W. Batten, we saw at White Hall stairs a fisher boat with a sturgeon that he had newly catched in the River; which I saw, but it was but a little one; but big enough to prevent my mistake of that for a colt, if ever I became mayor of Huntingdon.”—Pepys, ed. 1858, iii. 134. Upon which the editor has this note: “During a very high flood in the meadows between Huntingdon and Godmanchester, something was seen floating, which the Godmanchester people thought was a black pig, and the Huntingdon folk, declared was a sturgeon; when rescued from the waters, it proved to be a young donkey. This mistake led to the one party being styled ‘Godmanchester Black Pigs,’ and the other, ‘Huntingdon Sturgeons,’ terms not altogether forgotten at this day. Pepys’ colt must be taken to be the colt of an ass.” But the story of the colt is introduced into the Conceits of Tom Long the Carrier, printed at least as early as 1634. In the Preface to Middleton’s Mayor of Quinborough, 1661 (written of course many years before) there is a playful allusion to the wit of the mayor of Huntingdon, which seems to be unfavourably contrasted with that of the mayor of Quinborough.

    A jack of Dover.
    A sole, for which Dover is still celebrated. There was an old jest-book with this (no doubt then popular) title, printed in 1604 and 1615. Chaucer, in the Canterbury Tales (Cokes Prologe, ed. Bell, i. 235), makes the Host say to the Cook:

  • And many a Jakk of Dover hastow sold,
  • That hath be twyes hoot and twyes cold.
  • Whether in this passage Chaucer meant by Jack of Dover a sole or a dish warmed up (rechauffé), it is rather difficult to say.
    “This he [Fuller] makes parallel to Crambe bis cocta; and applicable to such as grate the ears of their auditors with ungrateful tautologies, of what is worthless in itself; tolerable as once uttered in the notion of novelty, but abominable if repeated.”—R.

    A jade eats as much as a good horse. H.

  • A January haddock,
  • a February bannock,
  • and a March pint of ale. D.
  • A jealous man’s horns hang in his eyes.

    A Jerusalem pony [a donkey].
    This is a generally understood term, and is not a mere Northamptonshire provincialism, as Miss Baker (Gloss, in voce) appears to have thought. That writer may be correct in ascribing the phrase to the entrance of Our Saviour into the Holy City on an ass.

    A jest driven too far brings home hate.

    A joke never gains an enemy, but often loses a friend.

    A journey were better too long than dangerous.

    A Judas kiss.
    Bale’s Kynge Johan (circa 1540), ed. 1838, p. 82.

    A kindly aver will never make a good horse.

    A king Harry’s face.
    Perhaps a hard, metallic face, like that on the Harry groats.

    A king promises, but observes only what he pleases.

    A king’s favour is no inheritance.

    A king’s word is more than another man’s oath.
    Letter of the Princess Elizabeth to her sister Mary, 1553 (Ellis’s O.L. 2nd S.), i. 255.

    A kiss of the mouth often touches not the heart.

    A knave discovered is a great fool.

    A knave (or a rogue) in grain.
    That is, of a scarlet dye. The alkermes berry, wherewith they dye scarlet, is called in Greek [Greek]; that is, granum in Latin, and in English grain.—R.

    A knavish confession should have a cane for absolution.

    A knotty piece of timber must have smooth wedges.

    A laced mutton.
    A phrase signifying a loose woman. Mutton is a term applied in the same sense, and possibly Rochester’s epitaph on Charles II. had this under-meaning in view.

    A lady’s reason.
    “It is so, because it is so.”

    A lame traveller should get out betimes.

    A lass that has many wooers oft fares the worst.

  • A late spring
  • is a great blessing. D.
  • A lazy ox is little better for the goad.

    A lazy sheep thinks its wool heavy.

    A leaden sword in an ivory scabbard. LUCIAN.

    A Leadenhall knife, where, if one pour on steel with a ladle, another comes, and wipes it off with a feather.
    Stephen Gosson (1581), quoted by Mr. Wheatley in his edit, of Cunningham’s London in v. Leadenhall.

    A lean fee is fit for a lazy clerk.
    Countrymans New Commonw. 1647.

  • A leap year
  • is never a good sheep year. D.
  • A learned man hath his treasure about him. DRAKE.

    A lecher’s love is (like sir reverence) hot.
    Taylor’s Whore, 1622.

    A leg of a lark is better than the body of a kite.

    A Leicestershire plover.

    A lewd bachelor makes a jealous husband.

    A liar should have a good memory.

    A lie begets a lie, till they come to generations.

    A lie has no legs, but a scandal has wings.

    A lie with a latchet.
    Comp. That’s a lie., &c.

    A life of leisure and a life of laziness are two things.

    A light burden far heavy. C.

    A light Christmas, a heavy sheaf.

    A lightening before death. CL.
    For this well-understood physical phenomenon, Clarke (Parœm. 1639, p. 185) considers that the Latin equivalent—the Erasmian counterpart—should be “periturum gaudium!” Nearly all the parallels of Clarke, Walker, Ray, &c., are of the same stamp. Ray observes: “This is generally observed of sick persons, that a little before they die their powers leave them, and their understanding and memory return to them, as a candle just before it goes out gives a great blaze.”

  • “Matilda.I thought it was a lightening before death,
  • Too sudden to be certain.”
  • Death of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, 1601 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley.)
  • Comp. Nares’ Glossary, 1859, p. 511.

    A light hand makes a heavy wound.
    Manningham’s Diary, 1602, p. 52.

    A light-heeled mother makes a heavy-heeled daughter.

    A light purse makes a heavy heart.

    A light-skirts.

    A Lincolnshire pudding.
    This seems to be cited as something well known and popular in A Shrove Tvesday Banqvet, 1641.

    A lion may be beholden to a mouse.
    This appears to be an aphorism founded on the well-known Æsopian fable.

    A lion’s skin is never cheap. H.

    A lion with a white face.
    A calf. Part of the title of a tract, 1649.

    A liquorish tone is the purse’s canker.

    A liquorish tongue, a lecherous tail.

    A lisping lass is good to kiss.

    A little and good fills the trencher. H.

    A little barrel can give but little meal.

    A little bird wants but a little nest.

    A little body often harbours a great soul.

    A little debt makes a debtor, but a great one an enemy.

    A little ekes, quoth Jenny Wren, when she pissed in the sea. CL.

    A little fire burns up a great deal of corn.

  • A little house well filled
  • a little land well tilled,
  • and a little wife well willed
  • are great riches.
  • Written in a coeval hand in a copy of edit. 1561 of The Grete Herball, &c. See Notes and Queries for January 2, 1869.

  • A little in the morning, nothing at noon,
  • and a light supper doth make to live long.
  • A little kitchen makes a large house. H.
    MS. of the sixteenth century in Rel. Ant., i. 208. A portion of the contents of this MS. has been transcribed from Heywood’s Proverbs, 1562.

    A little leak will sink a great ship.

    A little let lets an ill workman. H.

    A little more breaks a horse’s back.
    Some say, the last feather breaks the camel’s back. El asno sufre la larga, no la sobre carga. Span. A cobiça rompre o saco. Port.

    A little more than kin and less than kind.
    Hamlet, i. 2. I would he were not so neere to us in kindred, then, sure, he would be neerer in kindnesse.—Rowley’s Search for Money, 1609.

    A little of everything is nothing in the main.

  • A little pot
  • soon hot. HE and C.
  • Little persons are commonly choleric.—RAY.

    A little ship needs but a little sail.

    A little stream drives a light mill. CL.
    Countrym. N. Commonw. 1647.

    A little stream may quench thirst as well as a great river.

    A little string will tie a little bird.

    A little time may be enough to hatch great mischief.

    A little wind kindles, much puts out the fire. H.

  • A little with quiet
  • is the only diet. H.
  • A little wit will serve a fortunate man.

    A little wood will heat a little oven.

    A living dog is better than a dead lion.

    A loan should come laughing home.

    A Lockerby lick.
    A slash in the face with a sword, so called from a practice during the feuds between the border-clans in Scotland, but arising from the fight between the Maxwells and Johnstones at Lockerby in Annandale.

    A London cockney.
    This nickname is more than four hundred years old: for when Hugh Bigot added artificial fortifications to his naturally strong castle of Bungay, in Suffolk, he gave out this rhyme, therein vaunting it for impregnable:

  • Were I in my castle of Bungey,
  • Upon the river of Waveney,
  • I would ne care for the King of Cockney.
  • Meaning thereby King Henry II., then quietly possessed of London, whilst some other places did resist him; though afterwards he so humbled this Hugh, that he was fain with large sums of money, and pledges for his loyalty, to redeem this his castle from being razed to the ground. A different account occurs in the comedy of Look about you, 1600, where Gloucester is made to say:
  • “O, that I were within my fort of Bungay,
  • Whose walls are wash’d with the clear streams of Waveney,
  • Then would not Gloucester pass a halfpenny
  • For all these rebels——”
  • I meet with a double sense of this word Cockney: 1. One coax’d and cocquer’d, made a wanton or nestle-cock, delicately bred and brought up, so as, when grown up, to be able to endure no hardship. 2. One utterly ignorant of country affairs, of husbandry, and housewifery, as there practised. The original thereof, and the tale of the citizen’s son, who knew not the language of a cock, but called it neighing, is commonly known.—R. So Day in his Blind Beggar, 1659, ed. Bullen, p. 108, makes Tom Stroud say:—“I think you be sib to one of the London cockneys that asks whether Haycocks were better meat broyled or rosted.”

    A London jury; hang half, and save half.
    Some affirm this of an Essex, others of a Middlesex jury: and my charity believes it equally true, that is, equally untrue, of all three. It would fain suggest to credulous people as if Londoners, frequently impanelled on juries, and loaded with multiplicity of matters, aim more at dispatch than justice, and to make quick riddance (through no haste to hang true men), acquit half and condemn half. Thus they divide themselves in œquilibrio between justice and mercy, though it were meet the latter should have the more advantage, &c. The falseness of this suggestion will appear to such who, by perusing history, do discover the London jurors most conscientious in proceeding “secundùm allegata et probata;” always inclining to the merciful side in saving life, when they can find any cause or colour for the same.—R.
    As the present work seems to be one in which desultory illustration is admissible, I quote the following from Luttrell’s Diary, i. 289: “The 21st [Nov. 1683] Algernon Sidney esq. came upon his tryall at the kings bench bar upon an indictment of high treason in conspireing the death of the king, endeavouring to levy war, and cause an insurrection in these kingdomes: the jury were a jury of Middlesex, who being called, he took exceptions to severall; some that they were the kings servants: others, that they were concerned in personating the lord Russells ghost: and the greater part, for that they were no freeholders in the county of Middlesex, &c.”

    A London pudding.
    In the well-known account of the manner of living of Henry Hastings, second son of George, Earl of Huntingdon, in Dorsetshire, it is said that he was never without “a London pudding.” In “A Shrove Tvesday Banqvet sent to the Bishops in the Tower,” 4to, 1641, the gift to the Bishop of Canterbury is “a London pancake.”

    A long harvest of a little corn. C.

    A long-horned one.
    An inhabitant of Craven.—HALLIWELL.

    A long lane, and a fair wind, and always thy heels here away.

    A long life hath long miseries.

    A long ox and a short horse.

    A long tongue is a sign of a short hand. H.

    A lord’s heart and a beggar’s purse agree not.

    A lord without riches is a soldier without arms.

    A louse is better than no meat.
    Musarum Deliciæ, 1656.

    A lover’s soul lives in the body of his mistress.

    A low hedge is easily leaped over. C.

    A loyal heart may be landed under Traitor’s Bridge.
    This is a bridge under which is an entrance into the Tower, over against Pink-gate, formerly fatal to those who landed there; there being a muttering that such never came forth alive, as dying, to say no worse therein, without any legal trial. The proverb importeth, that passive innocence, overpowered with adversaries, may be accused without cause, and disposed of at the pleasure of others.—R.

    A Ludgate bird. CL.

  • A mackerel sky
  • never holds three days dry.
  • Compare The mackerel’s cry, &c. It is still an article of belief, even among educated people, that what is called a mackerel sky prognosticates wet. In Scotland they hold the same thing of the clouds, when they present three distinct shades. In Carr’s Dialect of Craven, 1828, i. 221, it is said that Hen Scrattins are “small and circular white clouds denoting rain or wind. A friend informs me,” says the writer, “that it is usual in Devonshire for the people to say ‘see mackarel backs and horse-tails,’ as indicative of rain or wind.” It is said that mackarel are out of season when gooseberries come in, yet people eat mackarel with gooseberry sauce. The French call the gooseberry in fact groseille à maquereau.

  • A mackerel sky and mares’ tails
  • make lofty ships carry low sails.
  • A mad beast must have a sober driver.

    A mad bull is not to be tied up with a packthread.

    A madman and a fool are no witnesses.

    A mad parish must have a mad priest.

    A maid and a virgin are not all one. CL.

    A maiden’s nay.
    “To say nay, and take it.”

  • A maid oft seen, a gown oft worn,
  • are disesteemed and held in scorn.
  • A maid that laughs is half taken.

    A maid that taketh yieldeth.

    A man among children will be long a child, a child among men will be soon a man.

    A man apt to promise is apt to forget.

    A man, as he manages himself, may die old at thirty, or young at eighty.

    A man assaulted is half taken.
    Booke of Merry Riddles, 1629, No. 22.

    A man at five may be a fool at fifteen.

    A man at sixteen will prove a child at sixty.

    A man can do no more than he can.

    A man cannot spin and reel at the same time.

    A man far from his good is nigh his harm. HE.
    Qui est loin du plat est pres de son dommage. Fr.—RAY.

    A man gets no thanks for what he loseth at play.

    A man had better have a dule than a dawkin.
    i.e., A shrew than a slut.

  • A man had better ne’er been born,
  • as have his nails on a Sunday shorn. D.
  • A man has choice to begin love, but not to end it.

    A man has no more goods than he gets good by.

    A man has often more trouble to digest meat than to get it.

    A man hath many enemies when his back is to the wall. CL.

    A man in a passion rides a horse that runs away with him.

    A man is a fool or a physician at fifty.
    Letter from Josiah Wedgwood to T. Bentley, Feb. 22, 1768. But Ray says: “A man is either a fool or a physician after thirty years of age.”

    A man is a lion in his own cause.

    A man is a man, though he hath never a cap to his crown.

    A man is a man, though he have but a hose on his head. C. and CL.

    A man is little the better for liking himself, if nobody else like him.

    A man is not good or bad for one action.

    A man is not so soon healed as hurt. C.

  • A man is weal or woe,
  • as he thinks himself so.
  • A man knows his companion in a long journey and a little inn.

    A man, like a watch, is to be valued for his goings.