Home  »  English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases  »  To-morrow-come-never to To think

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

To-morrow-come-never to To think

To-morrow-come-never. East Anglia.
Forby’s Vocabulary, 1830, art. Come.

To-morrow is a new day. WALKER.
Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibœa (1520), in Hazlitt’s Dodsley, i. 86; Digby’s Elvira, 1667, ibid. xv. 41.

To-morrow is untouched.

To-morrow morning I found a horseshoe.

To no more purpose than to beat your heels against the ground.

To no more purpose than to beat your heels against the wind.

To nourish a viper in one’s bosom.
Tu ti allevi la biscia in seno. Ital. [Greek].—Theocr. Colubram in sinu fovere. Est apud Æsopum Apologus de rustico quodam in hanc rem. [Erasmus].—R.

To out-Herod Herod.
Hamlet, iii. 2.

To outrun the constable.
See Davis, Suppl. Glossary, 1881, p. 145.

To outshoot a man in his own bow.

To overshoot Robin Hood.

To pass the pikes.

To patter the devil’s paternoster. HE.

To pay one in his own coin.

To pay the piper.
A tract printed in 1689 bears the title: “England must pay the Piper.”

To pay the shot.
Kind Harts Dreame (1592), repr. p. 46. “Well, at your will ye shall be furnisht. But now a jugling tricke to pay the shot.”

To pick a hole in a man’s coat.

To pick a quarrel [or bone].

To pick holes in one’s coat.
White’s Countryman’s Conductor, 1701, Preface.

To pick the collier’s purse.
“Come, let us to worke then: and let not your Lady hands make any conscience in picking the Colliars Purse.”—A Hermeticall Banquet, drest by a Spagirical Cook, 1652, sign (B 7).

To pick up one’s crumbs.
i.e., To recover strength. Nash’s Summers Last Will and Testament, 1600 (Dodsley’s O. P., ed. 1825, ix. 45).

To pipe with an ivy leaf.
To go and engage in any sterile or idle occupation, to hang one’s heels up. “Farewell the gardner, he may pipe with an yuy leafe, his fruit is fayled.”—The Testament of Love (Chaucer’s Works, 1602, fol. 299 verso).

To play at blindman’s buffet. WALKER.
To winke and strike.—Wodroephe. Have we not here the key to the origin of the term? Martin Parker, in a tract printed in 1641, calls it Blind Mans Bough. Compare my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 56.

To play fast and loose.

To play racket.
“Ye wete well, Lady (qd. I), that I haue not plaied raket, Nettle in, Docke out, and with the Weathercocke waued.”—The Testament of Love (Chaucer’s Works, 1602, fol. 274 verso). We now say, in the same sense, to racket.

To play Scogin.
To play improper tricks with anyone. Table collected out of a booke named a treatise of treasons … 1572. MS. of the 16th c., fol. 8. In the same work, fol. 17, we meet with the phrase “Scoganish lies.”

To play second fiddle.
To act a subordinate part.

To play the devil in the bulmong.
Harvey’s New Letter of Notable Contents, 1593, repr. p. 15. Bulmong, i.e., corn mingled of peas, tares and oats.—R. “Skinner,” adds Forby (Vocab., 43), “makes buckwheat the main ingredient. With us (East Anglia) it means any coarse thick mixture for homely food.” See Tusser’s Husbandry, 1580, edit. 1878, p. 251.

To play the devil in the horologe. HEYWOOD.
Udall’s Ralph Roister Doister, written before 1551. Fabyan relates, on the authority of Gaguin, that among the presents sent in 807 to Charlemagne by the King of Persia was “an horologe or a clocke of laten of a wonder artyfyciall makyng, that at euery oure of the daye & nyght, whan the sayde clocke shulde stryke, imagys on horse backe aperyd out of sondrye placis, and aftir departyd agayne by meane of sertayne vyces.” Record, writing about 1550, says this instrument was a clepsydra. To such a device Horman (Vulgaria, 1530) seems to allude when he says, “Some for a tryfull pley the deuyll in the orlege: aliqui in nugis tragedias agunt.”—Wood’s Curiosities of Clocks and Watches, 1866, p. 12.

To play the dog in the manger.
You’ll not eat yourself, nor let the horse eat. [Greek].—Lucian. Canis in præsepi. E come il cane dell’ ortolano, che non mangia de cavoli egli, e non ne lascia mangiar altri. Ital.—R.

To play the Jack with one.
To attempt to domineer over one, I suppose, is here the intended sense; to be what we call a Jack-in-office.

To play Will with the wisp.
Day’s Law Trickes, 1608, repr. 77.

To play with a wench at pot finger.
“Wil.Didest thou euer see better weather to runne away with another man’s wife or play with a wenche at pot-finger?”
Arden of Faversham, 1592, ed. Bullen, 72. Pot-finger is perhaps poke-finger. The speaker is referring to a thick mist.

To play with one’s beard.

  • “Yet I have played with his beard in knitting this knot:
  • I promist friendship; but—you love few wordes—I spake it, but I meant it not.”
  • —Edwards’s Damon and Pithias, 1571, Hazlitt’s Dodsley, iv.
  • To plough with the ass and the ox.

    To pluck [or pull] a crow with one. HE.
    i.e., To pick a quarrel. See Towneley Mysteries, 15:

  • “Cayn.Na, na, abyde, we have a craw to pulle;
  • Hark, speke with me or thou go.”
  • But its modern provincial meaning is as often merely to reproach good-naturedly. See Miss Baker’s Northamptonsh. Gloss., 161. “Avere mala gatta di pelere. Ital.”—R.

    To pluck Sir Bennet by the sleeve.
    Gascoigne’s Steele Glas, 1576 (Works, by Hazlitt, ii. 199).

    To pocket an insult or injury.
    “If you be a Gentleman borne, and a Seruingman by profession, if in reading this my Booke, you shall happely stumble on any unsauerie sentence, that may mislike your taste, pocket, I pray you, this iniurie (as I may tearme it) since (God is my witnes) I meane you no harme.”—Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Servingmen, 1598, Roxburghe Library, repr. p. 100. “To pocket up one’s wrong,” &c., occurs in Tuvill’s Essayes Morall and Theologicall, 1609, p. 184.

    To pour oil into the fire is not the way to quench it. DS.

    To pour water into a sieve.
    Cribro aquam haurire.—R. Pescar per proconsolo. Ital.

    To preach at Tyburn-Cross.
    To be hanged. See Gascoigne’s Steele Glas (Poems, by Hazlitt, ii. 186).

    To promise, and give nothing, is to comfort a fool.

    To put a spoke in his wheel.

    To put all one’s eggs into one basket.
    To sink a man’s entire resources in one venture.

    To put oil to the fire.
    To make bad worse. Oleum cammino addere. So, in the interlude of the Disobedient Child, by T. Ingelend, edit. 1848, p. 15:

  • “After the prouerbe, we put oyle to the fyre.”
  • Mr. Halliwell refers in a note to King Lear, ii, 2, and All’s Well that Ends Well, v. 3.

    To put one to his trumps.

    To put one’s elbow in one’s eye.
    To do oneself mischief, to be one’s own enemy.

    To put one’s finger in the fire.
    Prudens in flammam ne manum injicito.—Hieron. Meddle not with a quarrel voluntarily, wherein you need not be concerned. See Prov. xxvi. 17.—R.

    To put one’s nose quite out of joint. WALKER.

    To put our sickle into another man’s corn.

    To put out the miller’s eye.
    “This peculiar phrase has no reference to the eye of a miller, but probably to that part of the machinery of a mill termed the mill-eye, which is the aperture in the upper revolving stone, beneath the hopper, through which the corn passes to be ground.”—Miss Baker’s North. Gloss., 1854, ii. 21. “Spoken by good housewives, when they have wet their meal for bread or paste too much.”—R. But in Gloucestershire the kernels in second-rate bread appear to have been known under this name. See Globe newspaper, Feb. 21, 1890.

    To put pro in my purse.
    In Damon and Pithias, by R. Edwards, 1571 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, iv. 60), Stephano says:—

  • “Then for an earnest-penny take this blow.
  • I shall bombast you, you mocking knave; chill put pro in my purse for this time.”
  • To put the chouse on one.
    To cheat or pilfer. The Maids Complaint against the Batchelors, 1675, p. 5:—“There is scarce a Prentice of sixteen, but puts the Chouse upon his Master.” Chouse is still school slang.

    To put water in one’s wine.
    i.e., To modify one’s language, or abate one’s boasting. So Chamberlain, in one of his entertaining letters to Dudley Carleton, 17 Jan. 1598–9, says: “Here was speach that the Erie of Kildare and the Lord of Delvin began to stand upon termes, and to geve doubtful aunswers, and that the cheife rebells in Munster began to put water in theire wine.” See Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (Roxb. Lib. repr. p. 182).

    To quake like an oven.

    To rain quails.
    Said at the time of year when these birds are migrating to Western Europe. Compare When the sky falleth.

    To rattle like a boar in a holme [holly] bush. New Forest.

    To reckon before [or without] one’s host.
    Ellis’s Orig. Letters, 2nd S., iii. 279, letter of 1632. Faire son coute sans son hoste. Fr. The expression occurs in Vray Discovrs et Relation de la Svbtile Entreprinse de Biarnois sur Arras…. 12o, Bruxelles, 1597.

    To return like the dog to his vomit.
    Life and Adventures of Bamfyld Moore Carew, 1745, p. 44.

    To ride Bodkin.

    To ride post for a pudding.

    To ride the dun horse.
    To dun a debtor, said to be derived from the name of Dun the executioner.

    To ride the great horse.
    Gutch’s Collectanea Curiosa, ii. 28; Peck’s Desiderata Curiosa, ed. 1779, p. 328. The Great Horse was a grand educational curriculum, at one time propounded with a view to suppression of the existing system. It seems to have met with great resistance.

    To rip up old sores.

    To rise with the lark and go to bed with the lamb.
    Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (Roxb. Lib. repr., p. 182). This forms two of Charles Lamb’s Popular Fallacies (Elia, 1833, pp. 269–74).

    To roast a stone. HE.

    To rob a wench of the inner lining of her linen.
    “This rauishing is a word signifieth robbing of wenches of the inner lining of their linnen.”—Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (Roxb. Libr. repr., 189).

    To rob Peter and pay Paul. HE.
    Holinshed (ed. 1808, iii. 708) says of Wolsey: “He went aboute to cloth Peter and rob Paule.” Il oste à S. Pierro pour donner à S. Pol. Fr. Scoprire un altare per coprirne un altro. Ital. The Spaniards say: Hacer un hoyo para tapar otro. “I shrewdly presage, thou shalt not finde many powling pence about him neither, except he rob Peter to pay Powle.”—Nash’s Have with you to Saffron Walden, 1596, repr. 1869, p. 9.

    To rock the cradle in one’s spectacles.

    To row one way and look another.
    As scullers do. [Greek].—Aristoph. apud Suidam. Alterâ manu fort lapidem, panem ostentat alterâ.—Plaut.—R.

    To rub on the gall. HE.*

    To rule all the roost.
    Skelton’s Why come ye nat to Courte (circa 1520).

    To rule the roost.
    In the Debate of the Carpenter’s Tools, 15th cent. (Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, i. 85), the Pulley says:—My mayster [char.]et shall reule the roste.

    To run a-muck.
    Speaking of gaming. A strong spirit of play characterises a Malayan; after having resigned everything to the good fortune of the winner, he is reduced to a horrid state of desperation; he then loosens a certain lock of hair, which indicates war and destruction to all whom the raving gamester meets. He intoxicates himself with opium, and working himself up into a fit of frenzy, he bites and kills every one who comes in his way. But as soon as ever the lock is seen flowing, it is lawful to fire at the person, and to destroy him as fast as possible. I think it is this our sailors call “To run a-muck.” Thus Dryden writes:

  • “Frontless, and satire-proof, he scours the streets,
  • And runs an Indian muck at all he meets.”
  • Thus also Pope:
  • “Satire’s my weapon, but I’m too discreet,
  • To run a-muck, and tilt at all I meet.”
  • It is not improbable that the origin of this expression was, their employing on these fatal occasions a muck or lance.—Universal Magazine, 1792, quoted by Brady (Var. of Lit., 1826).

    To run a rig.

  • “Away went Gilpin, neck or naught;
  • Away went hat and wig;
  • He little dreamed when he set out,
  • Of running such a rig.”
  • Cowper’s Diverting History of John Gilpin.
  • To run as fast as a pudding can creep.
    Armin’s Nest of Ninnies, 1608.

    To run him through the nose with a cushion.
    Walker (1672). Plumbeo jugulare gladio. Erasm.—W.

    To run one’s head against a stone wall.
    Pappe with an Hatchet (1589), sign. D 2.

    To run over shoes.
    i.e., To get over head and ears into debt. A Health to the Gentlemanly Profession of Servingmen, 1598, repr. Roxb. Lib., 154.

    To run the wild-goose chase.

    To run with the hare and hold with the hound.
    “Whatsoeuer I speake to men, the same also I speake to women; I meane not to run with the Hare and holde with the Hounde.”—Lyly’s Euph., 1579, repr. Arber, p. 107. Not much unlike hereto is that Latin one, Duabus sellis sedere, i.e., incertarum esse partium; and, ancipiti fide ambabus servire velle, v. Erasm. Liberius Mimus, chosen into the senate by Cæsar, coming to sit down by Cicero, he, refusing him, said, I would take you in, did we not sit so close [nisi angustè sederemus]; reflecting upon Cæsar, who chose so many into the senate that there was scarce room for them to sit. Liberius replied. But you were wont to sit upon two stools, meaning to be on both sides.—R. Andare con due cembali en colombaja. Ital.

    To save one’s breath to cool one’s broth or pottage.
    The Dumb Knight, 1608 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, x. 136).

    To say his prayers backward.

    To scatter her mice.
    Said of a woman who has had a baby, and goes about to see her friends. There is a supposed liability to catch the same complaint. Compare my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 536.

    To scold like a cutpurse.
    [Or] like a wych-waller. Cheshire. That is, a boiler of salt. Wych-houses are salt-houses; and walling is boiling.—R. See Wilbraham’s Cheshire Glossary, 1820, p. 71.

    To scorn a thing as a dog scorns tripe.

    To see far in a millstone. HE.

    To see it rain is better than to be in it.

    To seek a hare in a hen’s nest.
    Porter’s Two Angry Women of Abington, 1599, edit. Dyce, p. 103.

    To seek a knot in a rush.
    Gascoigne’s Poems (edit. 1869–70), i. 9. It seems to be rather a translation from the Terentian sentence, Nodum in scirpo quæris, than a genuine English saying. Another form is, You’d find knots in a bulrush.

    To seem and not to be, is throwing the shuttle without weaving.

    To send by John Long the carrier. HE.
    “Tom Long the carrier” is the later form. Rather, to wait for Tom Long the carrier. To wait for no purpose.—R. Howell (Letters, ed. 1754, p. 484; letter written about 1660) speaks of John Long the carrier.

    To send him for yard-wide packthread.
    That is, on a sleeveless errand.

    To send Jack after Yes.
    See N. and Q., 2nd S., viii. 484, and compare ibid., ix. 34.

    To send one away with a flea (or fly) in his ear.
    Lo gli ho messo un pulce nel orecchio. Ital. It is not easy to conceive by those who have not experienced it, what a buzzing and noise a fly will make there.—R.

    To send your wife to the Peak.
    “But my lord [Chesterfield] did presently pack his lady into the country in Derbyshire, near the Peake; which is become a proverb at Court, to send a man’s wife to the Peake, when she vexes him.”—Pepys’ Diary, Jan. 19, 1662–3.

    To serve one a dog-trick.

    To set [or put] a good face on a thing.
    Faire bonne mine. Fr.—R.

    To set at six and seven. HE.

    To set the best foot forward.

    To set the devil on sale. HE.

  • “Well saide (saide he), mary, sir, here is a tale,
  • For honestie, meet to set the diuell on sale.”—Heywood.
  • To set up his sail to every wind.
    Faire voile à tout vent. Fr. Evannare ad omnem auram.—Nazianzen.—R.

    To set up one’s staff.
    i.e., To resolve to abide in a place.—R.

    To set up shop on Goodwin’s Sands. HE.
    It is supposed that a play on the word Goodwin is here intended; and Pegge, in his Kenticisms (1735), ed. Skeat, speaks of this saying as a piece of country wit; but it is, at any rate, in Heywood (1562), and it is a question, after all, whether we are not to interpret it figuratively rather than jocularly.

    To shake a loose leg.
    i.e., To be irregular in one’s conduct, to go on the loose.

    To shake one’s ears.
    An expression of contempt. “Goe, shake your cares both,” occurs in the Conflict of Conscience, by N. Woodes, 1581, edit. 1851, p. 22.

    To shed riners with a whaver.
    Riner = a toucher used at quoits. “To shod riners with a whaver,” says Wilbraham (Cheshire Glossary, 1820, p. 54) “means to surpass anything skilful or adroit by something still more so.”

    To shew the way to Reading. N. AND Q.

    To shoe the wild mare.
    Stevenson’s Twelve Moneths, 1663, p. 4. The meaning seems from the context to be to run amuck like a spendthrift or gambler. But the passage occurs in Breton’s Fantasticks, 1626, from which Stevenson conveyed most of his own book, and compare my Faiths and Folklore, 1905, p. 544.

    To shoo the goose.
    “Goe, shoo your goose.”—Clarke’s Parœm., 1639, p. 68.

  • “And who wyll smatter what euery man doose,
  • Maye go helpe to shoo the goose.”
  • Parliament of Byrdes (circa 1550), in Hazlitt’s Pop. Poetry, iii. 179. The phrase, which applies to any futile enterprise or occupation, is used by Occleve and Skelton.
    Compare He that will meddle, &c. To shoo or choo a goose or other fowl is a word formed from the sound.

    To shoot at a pigeon and kill a crow.

    To shoot one’s fry. Dial. of Leeds.
    i.e., To forfeit the good opinion of one’s friends.

    To shoot the moon.
    To abscond in debt in order to evade creditors.

    To shoot wide of the mark.

    To sing another song.
    Shepherd’s John Bon and Mast Person (about 1548) in Hazlitt’s Popular Poetry, iv. 9.

    To sing lachrymæ.
    Roxb. Ballads, ed. Collier, p. 269.

    To sing Placebo.
    i.e., To conciliate. Harington’s Briefe Apologie of Poetry, 1591 (repr. 1813, p. 135).

    To sing the same song.
    Crambe bis cocta. Nothing more troublesome and ungrateful than the same thing over and over.—R.

    To sit in tight boots.

    To sit like a bean in a monk’s hood. HE.

    To sit like a frog on a chopping-block.

    To sit like a wire-drawer under his work.

    To sit still and pill [peel] straws. WALKER (1672).

    To sit upon one’s skirts.

    To skip up and down like a company of virginal jacks.
    Day’s Ile of Gvls, 1606, repr. 97.

    To slander with a matter of truth.

    To sleep a dog’s sleep.

    To sleep like a town-top.
    An allusion to the top, which was formerly purchased in towns and parishes for public use, and from its size, when spun, was apt to sleep unusually long.

    To slip one’s neck out of the collar.

    To smell a rat. CL.

    To smell of April and May.

    To smell of elbow grease.
    Lucernam olere.—R.

    To smell of the baby.
    Not to outgrow one’s childish ignorance. Breton’s Court and Country, 1618 (Roxb. Lib. repr., 188).

    To smell of the inkhorn. GASCOIGNE.

    To sow one’s wild oats.
    To give up the indiscretions of youth. So, in a letter from Sir T. Meautis to his sister Lady Bacon, June 2, 1636 (Cornwallis Corresp., 1842, p. 277) we have: “My eldest gyrle … I maye saye hath all reddie sooed all hyr wylde oats.” Tusser (Husbandry, 1580, repr. Dial. Soc., 17) uses the expression “To bridle wild oats’ fantasy” in a similar sense. The phrase is said to arise from the shifting habit of this sort of oats, which it derives from the awne or spike.

    To speak ill of others is the fifth element. DS.

    To speak like a mouse in a cheese.

    To spin a fair thread. HE.
    Scogin’s Jests, 1626.

    To split farthings.
    Spoken of a very penurious person. So, in French, “Il couperait un liard en deux.”

    To spoil the ship for a halfpennyworth of tar.
    But in Cornwall I heard a different version, which appeared to me to be more consistent with probability: “Don’t spoil the sheep for a ha’porth of tar;” and this agrees with a third variation: “Don’t spoil the hog for” &c., a hog in some counties (Lincolnshire, for instance) standing for a sheep of a year old. But, as Mr. Dyce (Gloss. Shakesp., art. Ship) observes, the two words, sheep and ship, seem formerly to have been pronounced very much alike. Sheep is, no doubt, the true reading. Camden reads hog.

    To stand buff [to stand firm]. N. AND Q.

    To stand in one’s own light.

    To stand in wax for one.
    To be surety. “Sam … Why, hee has consumed all, pawned his lands, and made his Vniuersity Brother stand in waxe for him.”—A Yorkshire Tragedy, 1608, sign. A 2 (edit. 1619).

    To stand Moses.
    To have another’s bastard fathered on one. See Halliwell in v.

    To stand upon one’s pantofles.
    That is, to give oneself airs.

    To stand upon thorns.

    To steal the hog, and give the feet for alms. H.

    To stick by the ribs.

    To stink like a polecat.

    To stink of Muscadel like an English Christmas.
    Fletcher’s play of the Pilgrim, quoted by Hazlitt (Faiths and Folklore, 1905, v. Christmas).

    To stir one’s stumps.
    Greene’s Farewell to Folly, 1591, dedic.; Lady Alimony, 1659 (Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xiv. 343). This play was written about 1635.

    To stop gaps with rushes. HE.*

    To stop two gaps with one bush.

    To stop two mouths with one morsel.
    Duas linit parietes câdem fideliâ. Unicâ filiâ duos parare generos. This is a modern proverb, but deserves (saith Erasmus) to be numbered amongst the ancient ones. I find it among the French: Dune fille deux gendres. To get himself two sons-in-law with one daughter.—R.

    To strain at a gnat and swallow the fly.
    Ancren Riwle, p. 9. The usual form has now become, To strain at a gnat and swallow a camel, which is the Scriptural phrase. But the author of that well-written tract, The Defence of Coney-Catching, 1592 (repr. 1859, p. 11), says, addressing Greene: “You straine Gnats, and passe over Elephants.”

    To stroke the beard thrice, like a German.
    Pappe with an Hatchet (about 1592), ascribed to Lyly, sign. D i. Allusively to the German habit of deliberation.

    To stroke with one hand, and stab with the other.

    To strut like a crow in a gutter.

    To stumble at the truckle-bed.
    To mistake the chambermaid’s bed for his wife’s.—R.

    To stumble on plain ground.

    To swallow an ox, and be choked with the tail.

    To swear like a lord or an emperor.
    Brady, in his Clavis Calendaria, gives a list of habitual oaths of sovereigns from the Conquest.

    To swear Walsingham.
    Porter’s Two Angrie Women of Abington, 1599, edit. Dyce, p. 103. Mr. Dyce supposes it may have meant “To swear by our Lady of Walsingham.” See a long note in my Dodsley, i. 335.

    To swell like a toad. HE.

    To take a dagger, and drown one’s self.

    To take a thing in snuff [or to take snuff].
    To be offended. So, in Woodes’s Conflict of Conscience, 1581, edit. 1851, p. 22:

  • “What, master Hypocrisie, will you take snuffe so soone?”
  • R. Fletcher, in his account of the judgment of Paris (Ex Otio Negotium, 1656, p. 184), says:
  • “Pallas and Juno then in high disdain
  • Took snuff, and posted up to heaven again.”
  • It appears probable that “to take pepper” was the older phrase, and that, on the introduction of tobacco, this superseded it.

    To take a venew under the girdle.
    i.e., To be got with child. This seems to be rather old cant than a proverbial expression, however. John Chamberlain’s Letters, Camd. Soc., 1861, letter dated 30th Aug. 1598.

    To take counsel of one’s pillow.
    La nuit donne conseil. Fr. Noctu urgenda consilia. Inde nox [Greek] dicitur [Greek]. La notte è madre di pensieri. Ital.—R. We usually say now, To sleep upon it.

    To take from one’s right side to give to the left.

    To take heart of grace.

    To take Hector’s cloak. Northumberland.
    That is, to deceive a friend who confideth in his faithfulness. When Thomas Percy, Earl of Northumberland, anno 1569, was routed in the rebellion he had raised against Queen Elizabeth, he hid himself in the house of one Hector Armstrong, of Harlaw, in this county, having confidence he would be true to him, who, notwithstanding, for money betrayed him to the Regent of Scotland. It was observable that this Hector, being before a rich man, fell poor of a sudden, and so hated generally, that he never durst go abroad; insomuch, that the proverb, to take Hector’s cloak, is continued to this day among them in the sense above mentioned.—R. Comp. Beloe’s Aulus Gellius, i. 203.

    To take one a peg lower.

    To take one up before he is down.

    To take one’s crumbs.
    To regain strength or appetite. Paston Letters, iii. 114 (1474).

    To take one’s ease in one’s inn. CHAUCER.

    To take out of one pocket to put in the other.

    To take pepper in the nose. HE.
    To take offence. Elderton’s Ballad of Lenten Stuff, 1570; Tarleton’s Newes out of Purgatory (1590); Davenport’s City Night-Cap (1624) in Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xiii. 166. The notion is the same as in the expression to take snuff, supra. In the dedication of Pappe with an hatchet, the writer speaks of “those tame ruffians of the Church, which take pepper in the nose, because they cannot marre Prelate’s grating.”

    To take snuff.
    Comp. supra, To take a thing, &c.

    To take the bird by the feet.
    If possible.

    To take the nuts from the fire with the dog’s foot. H.

    To take time by the lock [or forelock].
    Davenport’s City Night-cap (1624), in Hazlitt’s Dodsley, xiii. 168.

    To talk a horse’s hind leg off.

  • To talk well with some women doth as much good
  • as a sick man to eat up a load of green wood.
  • Booke in Meeter of Robin Conscience (circa 1550). This is the same class of dictum as that which occurs in the Schole-house of Women, 1541:
  • “As holsome for a man is a womans corse,
  • As a shoulder of mutton for a sick horse.”
  • To tell a man a lie, and give him a reason for it.

    To tell tales out of school. HE.

    To the counsel of fools a wooden bell. H.

    To the grave with the dead / they who live to the bread.

    To the purpose, as priests praise God in the morning. W.

    To think one’s halfpenny good silver.
    Gascoigne’s Glasse of Government, 1575 (Poems, by Hazlitt, ii. 22). The saying of course infers an undue valuation of anything trivial. But the simile or figure must be taken from the alloyed state of the small silver currency in Gascoigne’s time, as no halfpence, otherwise than in that metal, were coined till much later in England for general circulation, although copper pieces had been introduced in the 15th century into Italy and the Netherlands, and in France in Henry III.’s time. Yet Elizabeth did a great deal to redeem the currency from the discredit under which it had fallen in her father’s reign.