Home  »  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases  »  Neck and crop to No wonder

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

Neck and crop to No wonder

Neck and crop.
A common expression, signifying ejection of a person from any place summarily and completely.

Neck or nothing; for the king loves no cripples.

Need makes the naked man run.

Need makes the naked quean spin.

Need makes virtue.

Need maketh the old wife trot. HE.
“Neede make[char.] heald wif eorne.”—MS. in C. C. C. Cambridge (Wright’s Essays, i. 149). Ut cito se portet vetulæ pes cogit oportet.—Leonine verse in a MS. 12th cent. (ibid.) Besoigne fait veil troter. Old Fr. The saying, in its present form, is found in a MS. of the 16th cent., in Rel. Antiq., i. 207. “Bisogna fa trottar la vecchia. Ital. All the same, word for word.”—R. See New Custome, 1573, act iii. sc. 1 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, iii. 43).

Need will have its course.

  • Needles and pins, needles and pins:
  • when a man marries his trouble begins.
  • Needs must it be good that causeth so many good deeds.
    The Testament of Love (Chaucer’s works, 1602, fol. 288).

    Neighbour-quart is good quart.

    Neither a log nor a stork; good Jupiter.

    Neither barrel better herring.
    MS. of the 16th cent. (Rel. Antiq., i. 207).

    Neither fish, nor flesh, nor good red herring. HE.*
    Spoken of a nondescript.

    Neither for love nor money.

    Neither give to all nor contend with fools.

    Neither great poverty nor great riches will hear reason.

    Neither heat nor cold abides always in the sky.

    Neither here nor there.
    Merry Wives of Windsor.
    Harman’s Caveat for Comen Cursetors, 1567; Marriage of Wit and Science, 1570.

    Neither idle nor yet well occupied.

    Neither in Cheshire nor Chawbent. Cheshire.
    This is of tantamount force to the following: Chawbent is a town in Lancashire.—R. Chawbent or Chobent is now (1896) almost obliterated by what is called Atherton. It was never a place of any consequence and a popish priest, who came to Leigh as a stranger from one of the eastern counties raised a laugh against him, when he spoke of the localities in the neighbourhood, and enumerated Liverpool, Preston, &c., and wound up with Chobent. But even at Leich matters are still not very advanced, and within the last three years (1893) they played the old trick on some one of Whip the cat. A man, in 1845, writing to a correspondent, dated his letters 1745, because those parts were a century behind.

    Neither in Kent nor Christendom.
    Nash’s Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, repr. 1869, pp. 38–9. In the comedy of Look about you, 1600, sc. 4, Skink says:

  • “O Kent, O Kent,
  • I would give my part of all Christendom to feel
  • Thee as I see thee.”
  • “That is, saith Dr. Fuller, our English Christendom, of which Kent was first converted to the Christian faith, as much as to say; as Rome and all Italy, or the first cut, and all the loaf besides: not by way of opposition, as if Kent were no part of Christendom, as some have understood it.”—R. See Warton’s Hist. of Engl. Poetry, edit. Hazlitt, iii. 46, and a long note in Skeat’s edit. of Pegge’s Kenticisms, 74–5.

    Neither lead nor drive.
    An untoward, unmanageable person.—R.

    Neither meddle nor make.
    Pepys’s Diary, Nov. 7, 1661. “So we are resolved neither to meddle nor make with her.”

    Neither praise nor dispraise thyself; thine actions serve the turn.

    Nertown was a market-town / when Ta’nton was a vuzzy down.
    Notes and Queries, 1st S., iv. 96. This saying is applied to two or three other places in the West and South of England.

    Nettle in, dock out.
    Chaucer’s Troilus and Cresseide; Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister (1566), where, however, the phrase is reversed; Fraunce, Third part of the Countess of Pembroke’s Yuychurch, 1592. See Brockett’s North Country Glossary, 1825, p. 57, and Jennings’ Obs. on W. Country Words, 1825, p. 64. The dock here mentioned is the common mallow [or round dock, malva sylvestris]. See, for a curious nursery version of the charm connected with the use of the mallow or dock, Akerman’s Wilts. Gloss., 1842, p. 16. “These words are said to have a similar effect with those expressed in the old monkish adage, ‘Exeat ortica, tibi sit periscelis amica,’ the female garters bound about the part which has suffered being held equally efficacious.”—Wilbraham’s Cheshire Glossary, 1820, p. 26.

    Neust of a neustness. Berkshire.
    Almost the same. An expression very current in Berkshire, about Binfield.—R. Bale’s Kynge Johan (circa 1540).

    Never a barrel better herring.
    “Well, there is neuer a barrell better herring betwene you both.”—Gascoigne’s Supposes, 1566 (Works, i. 238). “No barrel, better herring.”—Nash’s Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, sign. K.

    Never a Granville wanted loyalty, a Godolphin wit, or a Trelawney courage. Cornw.
    The Granville here referred to was of course the old family of that name, of which Pope’s “Granville the polite” was a member, and also the celebrated Mrs. Delany. The Venetians had an earlier analogue: “Ne Mocenigo povero, ne Erizzo pietoso, ne Balbi ricco, &c.”

    Never be ashamed to eat your meat.
    Apud mensam verecundari neminem decet. Erasmus takes notice that this proverb is handed down to us from the ancients, save that the vulgar add, neque in lecto; whereas, saith he, Nusquam magis habenda est verecundiæ ratio quàm in lecto et convivio. Yet some there are, who, out of a rustic shame-facedness or over-mannerliness, are very troublesome at table, expecting to be carved to, and often invited to eat, and refusing what you offer them, &c. A tavola non bisogna haver vergogna. Ital. Qui a honte de manger a honte de vivre. Fr.—R.

    Never be weary of well-doing.

    Never but once at a wedding.

    Never cry hallo ’till you are out of the wood.

    Never done, like Pilling Moss. Lanc.

    Never fall out with your bread and butter.

    Never fish in troubled waters.

    Never good that mind their belly so much.

    Never had ill workman good tools. H.

    Never is a long term.

    Never offer your hen for sale on a rainy day. D.

    Never pleasure without repentance. HE.*

    Never praise a ford till you are over.

    Never put the kit to watch your chickens. Cornw.

    Never quit certainty for hope.

    Never rued the man that laid in his fuel before St. John. F.
    St. John the Evangelist (Dec. 27).

    Never sigh, but send.

    Never tell thy foe that thy foot acheth, quoth Hendyng.
    P. of H. (Reliq. Antiq., i. 111).

    Never too old to learn.
    Nulla ætas ad perdiscendum sera est. Ambros.—R.

    Never trust to a broken staff.

    Never venture out of your depth till you can swim.

    Never was cat or dog drowned that could but see the shore.


  • “You that with Neuerthrift, dayly will striue,
  • Lack no kynd of wares, but come hither to me.”
  • —Newbery’s Dives Pragmaticus, 1563.
  • New acquaintance.
    A complaint supposed to be the influenza, which visited Scotland in the winter of 1562. See Chambers’ Domestic Annals, 2nd edit., i. 22.

    New brooms sweep clean. CL.
    [Greek]. Æschylus, Prometheus Vinctus, “A new broome sweepes cleane.”—Edwards’s Damon and Pithias, 1571, Hazlitt’s Dodsley, iv. Nye Kosto fye bedst.—Dan.

    New church, old steeple: / poor town, and proud people.
    This saying refers to the village of Bowness on Windermere, near the Vale of Troutbeck. “The Vale of Troutbeck, opens upon Windermere about midway between Bowness and Ambleside, and is divided into three Hundreds, each of which maintains a bridge, a bull for breeding purposes, and a constable for the preservation of order,—severally known as the ‘Hundred bridge, &c.’ Hence, the men of Troutbeck are given to astonish strangers by boasting that their little chapelry possessed three hundred bridges, three hundred bulls, and three hundred constables!”—Lancashire Legends, 1873, p. 202.

    New dishes beget new appetites.

    New grief awakens the old.

    New honours change manners.

    New lords, new laws. CL.
    De nouveau seigneur nouvelle mesnie. Fr. Nuevo rey, nueva ley. Span.—R.

    New thing liketh, old thing loatheth.
    MS. 15th cent., cited in Retrosp. Rev., 3rd S., ii. 309.

    New things are most looked at.

    Two and two. Shakespeare’s First Part of Henry IV., iii. 3.

    New-made honour doth forget men’s names.

    Newmarket Heath.
    In the interlude of Thersites (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, i. 428), Thersites says of his mother:

  • “I will with a cushion stop her breath,
  • Till she have forgot Newmarket Heath.”
  • Next the end of sorrow anon entereth joy.
    The Testament of Love (Chaucer’s works, 1602, fol. 288, verso).

    Next to love, quietness.

    Next to no wife, a good wife is best.

    Nice customs curt’sy to great kings.
    Shakespeare’s Henry V., where it appears to be quoted proverbially.

    Nice eaters seldom meet with a good dinner.

    Nichils in nine pokes, or nooks. Cheshire.
    i.e., Nothing at all.—R. 1670.

    An exclamation by young players, when they wish to desist. St. Nicholas was their patron. Comp. Fain Play and Pax.

    Night is the mother of thought.

    Nightingales can sing their own song best.

    Nihil ad Parmenonis suem.
    Shakespear Society’s Papers, iii. 85: Rainoldes’ Dolarnys Primrose, 1606. It is pointed out in the former place that the phrase is introduced into the Induction to the Malcontent, 1604. “Nihil ad Parmenonis suem,” says the writer in the S. S. P., “is a proverb directed against those who, from prejudice or prepossession, pass a hasty judgment.” The passage from Plutarch, giving an account of the supposed origin of the saying, scarcely satisfies me, I own.

    Nil admirari.
    This phrase, borrowed from Horace, implies a real or feigned insensibility to pleasurable sensations, an apparent impossibility of deriving enjoyment from objects.

    Nil dictum quod non dictum prius.
    Pereant isti, qui ante nos nostra dixerunt. See Fournier, Le Vieux-Neuf, 1877, 3 vols, 12mo.

    Nil ultra.

    Nimble ninepence better than a slow shilling.

    Nine crabs high. Yorkshire.
    N. and Q., 2nd S., xii. 309. “Ever since I was nine crabs high.”

    Nine tailors make a man.
    In Tarlton’s Jests, 1638, it is said that “two tailors goe to a man.” See Old Engl. Jest-Books, ii. 214. But see Blackley’s Word-Gossip, 1869, p. 73, where the true origin and sense of this saying are explained. It is remarkable that tailors, as a class, so far from being pusillanimous or unmanly, are particularly courageous and active, and when the opportunity occurs make excellent soldiers. Yet even Sir John Hawkwood, the great English venturo of the fourteenth century, could not escape the (probably groundless) stigma of being the son of a tailor, and was known among the Italians, in whose service he spent many years of his life, by the nickname of Giovanni Aguto (John Needle). The early Italian painter, Andrea del Sarto, however, appears to have been so called without any disparaging intention.

    Nineteen to the dozen.
    Extravagance or exaggeration. It was a favourite phrase with Mr. Samuel Barlow, teacher of writing and arithmetic at Merchant Taylors’ School about fifty years since.

    Nip the briar in the bud.

    Nipence, nopence, half-a-groat lacking twopence.

    Nits will be lice.

    No alchemy to saving. H. AND WALKER.

    No and yes often cause long disputes.

    No autumn fruit without spring blossoms.

    No barber shaves so close but another finds work. H.

    No butter will stick on his bread. C.

    No carrion will kill a crow.

    No choice amongst stinking fish.

    No cousin in London, no cousin at Stonham. E. Anglia.
    See Forby’s Vocab., 1830, p. 428. The story which Forby narrates is the converse of the old “Friendly at Hackney, faithless at Whitehall.”

    No cross no crown.

    No cure, no pay.
    An inducement sometimes held out by medical and legal practitioners, in order to get a customer.

    No dearth but breeds in the horse-manger. C.

    No dish pleases all palates alike.

    No estate can make him rich that has a poor heart.

    No feast to a miser’s.
    Il n’est banquet que d’homme chiche. Fr.—R.

    No fee, no law.
    Suppose that at that time thou shouldest haue beene hanged, I cannot but thinke that the want of a payre of breeches would haue beene better to thee then thy necke-verse, for the hange-man would haue his breeches, no fee, no lawe.—Harvey’s Trimming of Thomas Nashe, 1597, sign. C 3 verso.

    No fence against a flail.

    No fence against gold.

    No fence against ill-fortune.
    Some evils and calamities assault so violently that there is no resisting or bearing them off.—R.

    No fine clothes can hide the clown.

    No fishing like fishing in the sea.
    Il fait beau pescher en eau large. Fr.—R.

    No flying without winds.

    No folly like being in love.

    No fool to the old fool. HE.
    Nash’s Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, repr. 1869, p. 126; Lyly’s Mother Bombie, 1592 (Works, 1858, ii. 124); Preface to The Wise Vieillard, translated from the French of Goulart by T. W., 1621.

    No foolery like falling out.

    No friend like a bosom friend, as the man said when he pulled out a louse.

    No friendship lives long that owes its rise to the pot.

    No further than you can throw a bull by the tail.

  • No gain on earth without its loss;
  • no back of ours without its cross;
  • no pleasure here without its pain;
  • thus earth and earthly things are vain. CL.
  • No gale can equally serve all passengers.

    No gaping against an oven.

    No garden without its weeds.

    No good building without a good foundation.

    No grass grows in the market-place.

    No grass grows on his heel.
    See Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister (1566), repr. 1847, p. 65. We now say, “He does not let the grass grow under his feet.”

    No great loss but some small profit.
    As, for instance, he whose sheep die of the rot saves the skins and wool.—R.

    No harm: no force.
    Pasquil’s Jests, 1604, repr. 1864, p. 24.

    No haste to hang true men.

  • No heart can think, no tongue can tell,
  • what lies between Brockley-hill and Pennywell.
  • Brockley-hill lies near Elstree, in Hertfordshire; and Pennywell is the name of a parcel of closes in the neighbourhood.—Halliwell.

    No heralds in the grave.

    No jest like a true jest.
    Title of a tract relating to Hind the highwayman, first printed probably in 1652. The saying appears to turn on the double meaning of jest Quasi joke, and jest quasi gest or exploit.

    No joy / without annoy.
    Extrema gaudii luctus occupat; and, Usque adeò nulla est sincera voluptas, sollicitumque aliquid lætis intervenit.—R.

    No larder but hath its mice.

    No law for lying.
    A man may lie without danger of the law.—R.

    No living man / all things can. CL.
    Non omnia possumus omnes.—Virgil. See many sentences to this purpose in Erasmus’s Adages.—R.

    No lock will hold / against the power of gold. H.

    No longer foster, no longer leman. HE.
    El pan comido la compaña deshecha. Span.—R.

    No longer pipe, no longer dance. HE.* and C.
    Dyke’s Engl. Prov., 1709, p. 197.

    No love [or advice] to a father’s. H.

    No man can call again yesterday. HE.*

  • “Proverb.No man can call againe yesterday.
  • Cross.Yes, hee may call till his heart ake, though it never come.”
  • —Breton’s Crossing of Proverbs, 1616. Heywood puts it a little differently: It is too late to call again yesterday. So (with a slight variation) the title of a poem by Robert Davenport, 1639.

    No man can flay a stone.

    No man can guess in cold blood what he may do in a passion.

    No man can like all or be liked of all.

    No man can serve two masters.

    No man can stand always upon his guard.

    No man cries stinking fish.

    No man ever surfeited on too much honesty.

    No man has a monopoly of craft to himself.

    No man hastes to the market, where there’s nothing to be bought but blows.

    No man his craft’s master the first day. CL.
    Nessuno nasce maestro. Ital.—R.

    No man is a hero to his valet-de-chambre.

    No man is able to keep peace longer than it pleaseth his neighbour.
    Reasons which forced Gustavus Adolphus to march into Germany, 1630, A 2.

    No man is born wise or learned.

    No man is the worse for knowing the worst of himself.

    No man knows himself till he has tasted of both fortunes.

    No man knows what chimney he shall have to his house.
    i.e., what his intersexual relations with his wife will be. The term chimney was sometimes understood in an obscene sense, like the French equivalent. There is Sermon joyeux d’un Ramoneur de Cheminées in Anciennes Poesies Françoises, 1855, i. 235) and an early French farce on the same subject (Ancien Théatre François, 1854, ii. 188).

    No man lives so poor as he was born.

    No man loveth his fetters, be they made of gold. HE.
    Next to health and necessary food, no good in this world more desirable than liberty.—R.

    No man should live in the world that has nothing to do in it.

    No marvel if water be lue.
    Lue, i.e., inclining to cold, whence comes the word lukewarm.—R.

    No matter what the vessel is, so the wine in it be good.

    No mill, no meal. CL.
    [Greek]. Qui fugit molam fugit farinam. [Greek]. He that would have honey must have bees. Erasmus saith, they commonly say, He that would have eggs must endure the cackling of hens.—R.

    No more like than chalk and cheese.
    Rowlands’ Letting of Humors Blood, 1600, edit. 1611, D 2 verso.

    No more like than Jack Fletcher and his bolt.
    Twyne’s Patterne of Painfull Aduentures (1576), undated ed. sign. M.

  • No more mortar, no more brick;
  • a cunning knave has a cunning trick.
  • No more sib than sieve and riddle, that grew both in a wood together.

    No more wit than a coote.
    Bale’s Kynge Johan (circa 1540), ed. 1838, p. 7.

    No news is good news.

    No one is a fool always, every one sometimes.

    No one knows the weight of another’s burden.

    No pains, no gains.

    No peace beyond the line.
    This saying is supposed to have owed its origin to the conflicts of the Spaniards with the English adventurers and others, who after a while disputed with them their West India possessions. See Lives of Drake, &c., 1846, p. 157.

    No penny, no pardon.

    No penny, no paternoster. HE.
    Nash’s Epistle before Greene’s Menaphon, 1589. See Hazlitt’s Book of Prefaces, 1874, p. 90. Burton’s Anatomy, 1621. Randolph, in his Hey for Honesty, 1651, p. 5, has it: “No penny, no paternoster, quoth the Pope.”

  • No playing with a straw before an old cat;
  • every trifling toy age cannot laugh at. HE.
  • No priority among the dead.

    No prison is fair nor love foul. H.

    No raillery is worse than that which is true.

    No religion but can boast of its martyrs.

    No remedy but patience.
    Said to a marriage-maker.—R.

    No rogue like the godly rogue.

    No rose without a thorn.
    Nulla est sincera voluptas.—R.

    No safe wading in an unknown water.

    No silver, no servant.
    The Swiss have a proverb among themselves parallel to this: Point d’argent, point de Suisse. No money, no Swiss. The Swiss for money will serve neighbouring princes in their wars, and are as famous in our days for mercenary soldiers as were the Carians of old.—R. 1670.

    No smoke without some fire.
    There is no fire without some smoke.—Heywood. There is no strong rumour without some ground for it. Cognatus hath it among his Latin proverbs, Non est fumus absque igne; though it be no ancient one. Cercale anda el humo tras la llama. Span. The smoke is near the flame.—R.

    No song, no supper.
    In the Knight of the Burning Pestle, 1613, Mistress Merrythought says to her son: “No, Michael, let thy father go snick-up … let him stay at home, and sing for his supper, boy.”—Beaum. and Fl., ed. Dyce, ii. 157. This is the title of a favourite farce.
    In the old fabliau of the Poor Scholar (Hazlitt’s Feudal Period, 1873, p. 48), it is the tale related by the scholar which draws out the hidden good cheer.

    No sooner is a temple built to God, but the devil builds a chapel hard by. H.

  • No sooner up,
  • but the head in the aumery and the nose in the cup. CL.
  • Watson’s Glossary of Halifax Words, appended to the Hallamsh. Gloss., art. Aumery. The aumery is the cupboard where the viands are kept.

    No sport, no pie.

    No sunshine but hath some shadow.

    No sweet / without his sweat. WALKER.

    No sweetness in a cabbage twice boiled or in a tale twice told.

    No tempest, good July, / lest corn come off bluely. F.

    No, thank you, has lost many a good butter-cake. Lanc.

    No vice but hath its patron.

    No vice goes alone.

    No viper so little but hath its venom.

    No weather’s ill / when the wind’s still. CL.

    No weeping for shed milk.

    No wisdom like silence.

    No wonder if he break his shins that walks in the dark.