Reference > Quotations > D.E. Marvin, comp. > Curiosities in Proverbs
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D.E. Marvin, comp.  Curiosities in Proverbs.  1916.
 
Curious Proverbial Similes and Comparisons
 
A babbler, a dog without a tail. (Persian).  1
A bad friend is like a smith who, if he does not burn you with fire, will injure you with smoke. (Arabian).  2
A great man’s word is like the elephant’s tusk! (Bengalese).
  The elephant’s tusk once exposed cannot be concealed. The great man’s words once spoken cannot be withdrawn and are remembered by those who heard.
  3
All come together, like a beating to a dog. (Spanish).
  “Misfortunes are close to one another.” (Latin). “Misfortunes come by forties.” “Misfortunes seldom come alone.” “One misfortune calls another.” “One misfortune is the eve of another.” (English). “One misfortune brings on another.” (Portuguese, Dutch). “To the wicked, misfortunes came triple.” (Modern Greek). “Whither goest thou, Misfortune?” “To where there is more.” (Spanish, Danish).
  4
An eye without light, as a tongue without reason. (Turkish).  5
A physician curing the people, while he himself is distempered. (Arabian).
  Used as a simile, as though preceded by the word “like.”
  6
As akin to a peat’s-ship and Sheriffdom as a sieve is to a riddle. (Scotch).
  A peat—or pet—was a term applied to a lawyer who was under the patronage of some particular judge.
  7
As a wolf’s mouth. (Spanish).
  Very dark.
  8
As bad as marrying the devil’s daughter and living with the old folks. (English).  9
As black as the devil. (English).
  “As black as a coal.” “As black as a raven.” “As black as soot.” “As black as jet.” “As black as ink.” “As black as a crow.” “As black as my hat.” “As black as my boot.” (English).
  10
As bold as Beaucamp. (English).
  “Of this surname there were many Earls of Warwick, amongst whom [saith Dr. Fuller] I conceive Thomas, the first of that name, gave chief occasion to this proverb; who in the year 1346 with one squire and six archers fought in hostile manner with a hundred armed men at Hogges in Normandy and overthrew them, slaying sixty Normans, and giving the whole fleet means to land.”—John Ray.
  There were others by the name of Beaucamp that gave celebrity to the simile because of their bravery in battle.
  11
As clean as a whistle. (English).
  A strange simile, but easily understood by any boy who has made a whistle out of a willow or ash stem and observed the clean, smooth, white wood when the bark is drawn off.
  12
As clean gane as if the cat had lick’d the place. (Scotch).  13
As cross as nine highways. (English).
  “As cross as a bear with a sore head.” “As cross as two sticks.” (English).
  Crosspatch was a name applied in the Middle Ages to an ill-natured person. In old England a domestic fool or jester was called a patch. Cardinal Wolsey had two fools who sometimes went by the name of Patch, though they had other names. The word, as applied to a jester, was probably derived from the fact that domestic fools wore patched, or patchwork, garments.
        “Crosspatch, draw the latch,
    Sit by the fire and spin;
Take a cup, and drink it up,
    Then call your neighbours in.”
  14
As dead as a door-nail. (English).
  This simile has been in use for centuries. The oldest manuscripts substitute “door tree” for “door nail.” There is no probability that the reference was to the nail struck by the knocker, but rather to the door tree or timber which came in time to be heavily studded with large-headed nails driven into the wood both for strength and ornament.
        “Faith without feet [works] ys febelere [feebler] than naught
And ded as a dorenayle [or door tree].”
William Langland.    
  “Look on me well; I have eaten no meat these five days; yet come thou and thy five men, and if I do not leave you all as dead as a door-nail, I pray God I may never eat grass more.”—Shakespeare: Henry VI.
  “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind I do not mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined myself to regard a coffin nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the country’s done for. You will therefore permit me to repeat emphatically that Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”—Charles Dickens.
  “As dead as a mackerel.” “As dead as mutton.” “As dead as charity.” “As dead as a herring.” (English).
  15
As deaf as a beetle. (English).
  See Proverbs Suggested by the Bible: “Nothing so deaf as an adder.”
  The reference in this simile is not to an insect but to a wooden mallet, as in the sayings, “Between the beetle and the block” and “As dull as a beetle.”
  “As deaf as a post.” “As deaf as a white cat.” (English).
  16
As dizzy as a goose. (English).  17
As drunk as David’s sow. (English).
  There are a multitude of proverbs and proverbial similes that relate to drinking and drunkenness. John Ray in his Collection of English Proverbs gives a list of twelve proverbial phrases and sentences belonging to drink and drinking and twenty-one paraphrases of one drunk; but none is more curious than this simile that is said to have originated in a visit that some people made to an alehouse in Hareford, England, kept by a man named David Lloyd whose wife was a heavy drinker. Being told that Lloyd’s sow had six legs, the visitors were anxious to see it and went at once to the sty where it was kept. On reaching the place they found that the proprietor’s wife had turned the sow out of its pen and had thrown herself down in the animal’s place to sleep off the effects of intoxication. Thereafter the woman was referred to as David’s sow and the phrase came into use as a simile of drunkenness.
  18
As dull as “Dun in the Mire.” (English).
  The allusion is to the old English game of “Dun in the Mire,” in which a log of wood representing a cart horse was placed on the floor. Then the cry was raised that Dun had stuck in the mire and two of the players began at once to pull the log away from their companions, sometimes using ropes for the purpose. Every effort was made to prevent its removal and at the same time to direct the rolling and tumbling of the log in a way that would cause it to fall on the toes of the players. When the two players found themselves unequal to the task of removing the log, others were called to their assistance until finally the log was drawn away and Dun was said to be “pulled out of the mire.”
  “As dull as a Dutchman.” “As dull as a beetle.” “As dull as ditch water.” “As dull as a Fro.” (A Fro is a blunt wedge.) “As dull as the debate of Dutch burgomasters on cheese parings and candle ends.” (English).
        “Tut, dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word:
If thou art dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire
Of this sir-reverence love, wherein thou stick’st
Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!”
Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet.    
  19
A sermon without a quotation from St. Augustine is like olla without bacon. (Spanish).  20
As false as a Scot. (Scotch).
  This simile, used in England as well as in Scotland, sometimes takes the form of “Fair and false like a Scot.”
  “I hope that nation generally deserves not such an imputation; and could wish that we Englishmen were less partial to ourselves, and censorious of our neighbours.”—John Ray.
  “Such were the terms in which the English used to speak of their poor northern neighbours, forgetting that their own encroachments upon the independence of Scotland obliged the weaker nation to defend themselves by policy as well as force. The disgrace must be divided between Edward I and III, who enforced their domination over a free country, and the Scots who were compelled to take compulsory oaths without any purpose of keeping them.”—Sir Walter Scott: The Talisman.
  “The English appear not to have borne a much better character in respect to good faith themselves, for ‘Foy d’Anglais ne vaut un poitevin’ expressed the opinion prevalent in the Middle Ages as to English treachery. This seems to be a favourite complaint against foreigners, for the Finns say ‘German faith,’ ironically, as the Romans said ‘Punica fides,’ and Juvenal wrote of ‘Graecia mendax,’ and the French spoke of, and perhaps still speak of, ‘Le perfide Anglais.’ The Russian proverb asserts that the Greeks only tell the truth once a year; while the Arabs express their opinion of Western veracity in the saying, ‘List to a Frank and hear a fable.’”—Andrew Cheviot.
  “As false as Waghorn and he was nineteen times falser than the deil”—referring to the fabulous Waghorn, king of liars. (Scotch).
  21
As good as goose skins that never man had enough of. (English).
  “As good as fowl of a fair day.” “As good as gold.” “As good as ever water wet.” “As good as ever went endways.” “As good as ever flew in the air.” “As good as ever the ground went upon.” “As good as ever drove top over tiled house.” “As good as ever twanged.” “As good as any between Bagshot and Baw-waw”—which was only the breadth of a street. “As good as any in Kent or Christendom.” “As good as George-a-Green.” (English).
  22
As grave as a gate post. (English).
  “As grave as a judge.” “As grave as an owl.” (English).
  23
As hasty as Hopkins, that came to jail over night and was hanged the next morning. (English).
  Quoted by Thomas Fuller in his Gnomologia.
  This old saying may have suggested the American expression, “Don’t hurry Hopkins,” that is often applied to people who are slow in paying their debts. It has been claimed that the American phrase was first used in Kentucky, where a certain man by the name of Hopkins gave a promissory note on which he wrote: “The said Hopkins is not to be hurried in paying the above.”
  24
As high as Gilderoy. (Scotch).
  There were two famous Scotch thieves by the name of Gilderoy—a seventeenth-century Gilderoy who robbed Cardinal Richelieu and Oliver Cromwell; and an eighteenth-century Gilderoy who was hung in Edinburgh for stealing sheep, horses, and oxen. As Haman was hung on a gallows fifty cubits high (Esth. v:4), so it was thought necessary to hang Gilderoy on one that was higher than those that were generally used for thieves, and one thirty feet high was set up for him. It was “so high he hung,” says an old writer, that “he looked like a kite in the clouds.”
        “Of Gilderoy sae fraid they were
  They bound him muckle strong,
Till Edinburgh they led him thair
  And on a gallows hong;
They hong him high above the rest,
  He was so trim a boy.”
  “Higher than Gilderoy’s kite.” (Scotch).
  25
As lazy as Ludlam’s dog, that leaned his head against the wall to bark. (English).
  Ludlam was a famous sorceress who lived in a cave near Farnham, England. It is said that her dog was so lazy that he would not bark, except in a feeble way, when anyone approached. The proverb is quoted by Thomas Fuller, John Ray, and others.
  “As poor as Job’s turkey, that had to lean against a fence to gobble,” was evidently suggested by the “Ludlam’s dog” proverb, though the first part of the saying has been in use many centuries.
  Three other maxims of similar construction should be noted: The seaman’s expression, “As lazy as Joe, the marine, who laid down his musket to sneeze”; the American phrase, “As poor as Job’s turkey, that had but one feather in his tail”; and the English simile, “As lazy as David Lawrence’s (Larrence’s) dog.” David Larrence was an imaginary man who was supposed to preside over lazy people, as David Jones (probably a corruption of Jonah) was thought to preside over the evil spirits of the sea—hence the familiar saying used by sailors, “He has gone to David Jones’s locker,” meaning that he died or was drowned.
        “He dies, by not a single sigh deplor’d
To David Jones’s locker let him go,
And with old Neptune booze below.”
John Wolcott.    
  26
As like as chalk to cheese. (English).
  A very old simile expressing dissimilarity. Sometimes it is said, “They are no more alike than chalk is like cheese,” and, “I cannot make chalk of one and cheese of another.” I cannot show favouritism. Dissimilarity is also expressed in such phrases as these: “As like as an apple to a lobster.” “As like as an apple to an oyster.” “As like as a dock to a daisy.” “As like as fourpence to a groat.” “As like as ninepence to nothing.”
  “She had a peculiar favour for Markham herself; and, moreover, he was, according to her phrase, as handsome and personable a young man as was in Oxfordshire; and this Scottish scarecrow was no more to be compared to him than chalk to cheese.”—Sir Walter Scott: Woodstock.
        “Lo, how thei feignen chalk for chese,
For, though they speke and teche wel,
Thei don hernself thereof no del.”
John Gower.    
        “For, who this case searcheth, shall soon see in it,
That as well agreeath thy comparison in these,
As like to compare in taste, chalk and cheese;
Or alike in colour to deem ink and chalk.”
John Heywood.    
  27
As mad as a hatter. (English).
  “I have never seen any satisfactory solution of this saying; but it appears from the dedication to the Hospital of Incurable Fools, quarto, 1600, that there was at that time living an eccentric character, perhaps not possessed of superfluous intelligence, known as John Hodgson, alias John Hatter, alias John of Paul’s Churchyard. Possibly we may here have the original ‘mad hatter.’ Nor is it unlikely that he is the same individual whom we find as John o’ the Hospital in Armin’s Two Maids of Moreclacke, 1609.”—C. Carew Hazlitt.
  28
As mad as a March hare. (English).
  It is believed that hares are unusually shy and wild in the month of March, that being their rutting season.
  Erasmus renders the simile—“As mad as a marsh hare” and explains that “hares are wilder in marshes from the absence of hedges and cover.”
        “Contrary to reason ye stamp and ye stare;
Ye fret and ye fume, as mad as a March hare.”
John Heywood.    
  29
As mad as the baiting bull of Stamford. (English).
  Reference is here made to an old-time annual diversion, at Stamford in Lincolnshire, England, six weeks before Christmas, in which a bull was set loose in the streets and pursued by clubs until the animal, maddened by its tormentors, became blindly furious. A full account of this cruel pastime is given in R. Butcher’s Survey of Stamford.
  30
As probable as to see an ox fly. (Spanish).  31
As proud and as poor as a Scot. (Scotch).
  “As proud as a peacock.” “As proud as an apothecary.” (English). “As proud as a Highlander.” “As proud as a Gascon.” (Scotch). “As proud as a burdock.” (Welsh).
  “We say ‘proud as a Scotchman,’ murmured the Duke of Buckingham.
  “And we say ‘proud as a Gascon,’” replied D’Artagnan; ‘The Gascons are the Scots of France.’”—Alexander Dumas: The Three Guardsmen.
  32
As queer as Dick’s hatband. (English).
  “As queer as Dick’s hatband, made of pea straw, that went nine times round and would not meet at last.” “As queer as Dick’s hatband which was made of sand.” “As fine as Dick’s hatband.” “As tight as Dick’s hatband.” All English proverbial sayings referring to “Dick’s hatband” are jeers. Dick was none other than Richard Cromwell, son of Oliver Cromwell, who was Lord Protector from 1658 to 1659. Cromwell’s regal honors were as a rope of sand.
  33
As safe as a gabbart. (Scotch).
  Gabbert—a small sailing vessel used on the River Clyde.
  “But fair fa’ the weaver that wrought the weft o’t—I swung and bobbit younder as safe as a gabbert that’s moored by a three-ply cable at the Broomielaw.”—Sir Walter Scott: Rob Roy.
  34
As sick as a cushion. (English).
  “As sick as a horse.” “As sick as a cat with eating a rat.” “As sick as a dog.” “As sick as a toad.” (English).
  35
As solitary as asparagus. (Spanish).
  As the asparagus stalks are separated from each other, so the man without kindred or friends is alone in the world.
  36
As strong as Cuchullin. (Gaelic).
  “Cuchullin is one of the principal characters in Scots-Irish legendary poetry and history, and is represented as not only a prodigy of strength but gifted with every manly grace, a Celtic Achilles and something more. In the wonderful old Irish legend of the ‘Tain Bo Cuailgne,’ he figures as the hero of the great struggle, in which he perished fighting against fearful odds, simply through his magnificent sense of honour and chivalry, knowing perfectly what he risked. This strange weird story is embodied by Mr. O’Grady in his History of Ireland.”—Alexander Nicolson.
  37
As unerring of hand as Connlaoch. (Gaelic).
  Connlaoch, son of Cuchullin mentioned in preceding simile.
  38
As uneven as a badger. (English).
  It was an old-time belief that a badger’s legs were longer on one side than on the other—hence the simile.
  39
As wanton as a wet hen. (Scotch).
  Applied to people who are worried or down-spirited.
  40
As welcome as water in a leaking ship. (English).
  “As welcome as water in one’s shoes.” “As welcome as snow in harvest.” “As welcome as snow in summer.” (English).
  41
Flourishing like a weed beside a cesspool. (Malayan).  42
Friends are like fiddle strings, they mauna be screwed ower ticht. (Scotch).  43
Good people are like the cocoanut, the bad like the jujube. (Burmese).  44
Great talkers are like broken pitchers, everything runs out of them. (Persian).  45
He flits about like a grasshopper. (Tamil).  46
He girns like a sheep’s head in a pair of tangs. (Scotch).
  Girns—grins or snarls—is fretful.
  “Little Andrew, the wretch, has been makin’ a totum wi’ his father’s ae razor; an’ the pair man’s trying to shave himsel yonder, an’ girnan like a sheep’s head on the tangs.”—Hugh Miller.
  “Girn when ye bind and laugh when ye lowse,” “He shall either girn (grin), or man fin (Fine).” He has repeated a slander concerning me and he shall either tell who the author of it is or take the punishment himself. “He girns like a sprained puggy”—or, as the English would say, “like a Cheshire cat.’”
  47
He glowers like a duck harkenin’ to thunder. (Scotch).
  “He glowers like a wullicat.” (Scotch).
  48
He hops about like a cat with a burnt paw. (Telugu).  49
He is as hard as a crocodile. (Accra—West African).
  “As hard as a horn.” “As hard as a rock.” (English).
  50
He is like a snake which has eaten earth. (Telugu).
  He is stupid, like a snake that has eaten earth. “He is as stupid as a cork.” (Russian).
  It is an old belief among Hindoos that snakes do sometimes eat earth.
  51
He is like the bagpipes, he never makes a noise till his belly’s full. (Irish).  52
He looks as if he were hatching eggs. (Spanish).
  See Singular Proverbs: “He appears as if he ate roasted spits”—always avoiding others and retiring to his own fireside.
  “He looks as though he were roasting spits.” He walks stiffly, not recognizing anyone. “He looks as though he ate a stew-pan.” He is restless. “He looks as though he had sold fish.” He is eager to pick up his winnings at a game. “He looks as though he were fed by ounces.” He is very thin. “He looks as though witches had sucked him.” He is mere skin and bones. “He looks as though he would not disturb the water.” He affects simplicity, concealing talent or evil purpose. “He looks as though he had been bred in the mountains of Batuecas.” He appears like a rustic. “He looks falling and he is grasping.” He dissimulates. “He looks like a cocoanut.” He is ugly in his appearance. (Spanish).
  53
He resembles a shell-cutter’s saw. (Bengalese).
  He gives advice and assistance to both parties in a dispute, but is shrewd enough to do so in a way that will accrue to his own benefit. Like a shell-cutter’s saw, his counsel and help cuts both ways.
  54
He sits like a tiger withdrawing his claws. (Malayan).
  See Grouping Proverbs: “If your neighbour has made a pilgrimage to Mecca once, watch him; if twice, avoid his society; if three times, move into another street.”
  55
He’s like a crane upon a pair of stilts. (Scotch).
  The stilts here referred to are crutches used in crossing shallow rivers and streams. In the district of Bordeaux these stilts are used by the peasants in walking through the loose sand that is common in the district.
  “I would have known thee, boy, in the lands of Bordeaux, had I met thee marching like a crane on a pair of stilts.”—Sir Walter Scott: Quentin Durward.
  56
He’s like Smith’s dog, so well used to sparks that he’ll no burn. (Scotch).
  He tipples so much that it does not seem to hurt him.
  57
He speaks like piercing arrows. (Tamil).  58
His coming is like the flowering of the fig tree. (Tamil).
  He does not come.
  59
His talking is like vegetables. (Marathi).
  He speaks softly, but not strongly.
  60
His tongue is as long as a baker’s shovel. (Osmanli).
  Referring to the shovel used by bakers in removing bread from the oven.
  The Osmanli peasant also says: “His tongue is like a biscuit-seller’s shovel”—very long.
  61
His tongue moves like a beggar’s clap-dish. (English).
  See Obscure Proverbs: “He claps his dish at a wrong man’s door.”
  It is curious to note that door-knockers were at one time called “lazar clappers,” because of the fact that the rattling sound of the knocker was thought to be like that made by the leper’s clapdish as he went about crying “unclean” and begging for alms.
  62
Honest as the skin between his brows. (English).
  A very old proverbial simile, the force of which is difficult to discover.
  “Goodman Verges, sir, speaks a little off the matter: an old man, sir, and his wits are not so blunt as, God help, I would desire they were; but, in faith, honest as the skin between his brows.”—Shakespeare: Much Ado about Nothing.
  63
I feel the heat fierce as a tiger. (Bengalese).  64
I see he is like a horse’s bite. (Bengalese).
  He is headstrong and obstinate.
  65
It is with law as with dykes, in whatever part they are broken the rest becomes useless; no ease for the mouth when one tooth is aching. (Chinese).  66
It was like a dog’s dream to him. (Spanish).
  He imagined that he was doing something of great importance, whereas it amounted to very little.
  67
Like a bag of money in a looking-glass. (Telugu).
  “What you see in the mirror is not in the mirror.” (German).
  68
Like a beggar at a bridal. (Scotch).
  He accepts an invitation to the wedding, and gives good advice to the bride, but presents her with no present.
  69
Like a broom bound with a silk thread. (Malayan).  70
Like a cat on a wall watching his position. (Tamil).  71
Like a cock upon a hillock, chuckling without feathers. (Spanish).
  Like a man who, having won his suit at law, chuckles over his triumph, though he has spent more than he has gained in defraying the expenses of litigation.
  72
Like a collier’s sack, bad without, worse within. (Spanish).
  Applied to people whose personal appearance is such that one would be justified in thinking that they were mean and contemptible.
  73
Like a cried fair. (Scotch).
  It was the custom in olden times to give publicity to fairs by an announcement outside the kirk door after the regular Sunday morning’s service. Having given his announcement, the crier informed the worshipers who had gathered about him that certain sales would take place in the neighbourhood. This practice gave rise to the above simile in speaking of a well-advertised event.
  74
Like a dog with a bell. (Spanish).
  He took offence at what was said, and fled from the company like a dog with a bell tied to its tail.
  75
Like a hunchback making a bow. (Chinese).
  Used in speaking of overdone politeness.
  76
Like a mad dog, he snaps at himself. (Afghan).  77
Like a man who would not wash his feet in the tank because he was angry with it. (Tamil).  78
Like a paper tiger. (Chinese).
  He makes a great bluster about what he will do, but he is perfectly harmless to injure anyone.
  79
Like a man butting a mountain. (Telugu).
  “Like dogs barking at a mountain.” “Like dogs barking at an elephant.” (Telugu).
  80
Like a rat falling into a scale and weighing itself. (Chinese).
  Like a man who puts too high an estimate on his own worth and ability.
  81
Like a rocket. (Chinese).
  Used in referring to a spendthrift who flings away his money on the slightest pretext.
  82
Like a sickle carried in the waist of a man climbing up a hill. (Telugu).
  Applied to people who impose unnecessary difficulties and dangers on themselves when undertaking any enterprise.
  83
Like a snake in a monkey’s paw. (Telugu).
  The man does not dare to carry out what he has begun, and he does not dare to cease his efforts; like the monkey with the snake, who is afraid to hold on or let go.
  84
Like a snake that has a head at both ends. (Tamil).  85
Like a sow playing on a trump. (Scotch).
  See Retorting Proverbs: “You may catch a hare with a tabor as soon.”
  The trump here referred to is a jew’s-harp.
  “Did you ever before hear of an ass playing upon a lute?” “A sow to a lute.” “A sow to a fiddle.” (English). “As trews become a sow.” (Gaelic). “An ass at the lyre.” (Latin).
  86
Like a wight oot o’ anither warld. (Scotch).
  He looks pale and weak, like one who is in ill health.
  87
Like Cranshaw’s kirk—there’s as mony dogs as folk, and neither room for reel nor rock. (Scotch).
  “In a remote pastoral region, like that of Cranshaws, lying in the midst of the Lammermoor Hills, it is, or was, usual for shepherds’ dogs to accompany their masters to the church, and in time of severe stormy weather few people except the shepherds, who are accustomed to be out in all weathers, could attend divine service, and in such circumstances it may have occurred that the dogs may have equalled in number the rational hearers of the word. We have heard the saying applied by bustling servant girls to a scene where three or four dogs were lounging about a kitchen hearth and impeding the work.”—George Henderson.
  88
Like getting on the shoulder of a man sinking in the mud. (Cingalese).  89
Like hanging a lantern on a pole, which is seen afar but gives no light below. (Chinese).
  Like giving money to charities far removed and neglecting those near at hand.
  90
Like going to Benares and bringing back an ass’s egg. (Telugu).
  “Like going to Benares and bringing back dog’s hair.” (Telugu).
  91
Like lettuce, like lips. (English).
  “An obsolete proverb translated from the Latin, similes habent labra lactucas…. It means that bad things suit each other—coarse meat suits coarse mouths, as an ass eats the thistles for his salad.”—Robert Nares.
  92
Like measuring the air. (Telugu).
  Like having idle daydreams.
  93
Like playing games with your grandmother. (Telugu).
  Sometimes young people will make sport with their elders at a wedding. The literal rendering of the simile is, “Throwing scarlet water over her.”
  The saying is used when old people are treated with disrespect.
  94
Like pulling a bear’s hairs out with tweezers. (Telugu).
  A never ending business.
  95
Like putting a mountain under one’s head and searching for stones. (Telugu).  96
Like reading a portion of the Veda to a cow about to gore you. (Tamil).  97
Like seeking feathers from turtles. (Cingalese).  98
Like a donkey’s tail, it neither stretched nor shrank. (Osmanli).  99
Like the gardener’s dog, that neither eats greens nor will let others eat them. (Spanish).
  See Æsop’s fable of “The Dog in the Manger.”
  100
Like the Hielandman’s gun, that needed a new lock, a new stock, and a new barrel. (Scotch).  101
Like Trishankur’s mounting to heaven! (Sanskrit).
  The simile refers to an old fable of a king who, desiring to ascend to heaven in his body, was hurled down to earth. His head, striking the ground, was buried so that his feet remained upward pointing to the sky.
  The saying is applied to people who lose what they have by seeking the unattainable.
  102
Life is like the moon—now dark, now full. (Polish).
  “Like the moon shining in the desert.” (Cingalese).
  103
Making a fool understand is like making a camel leap a ditch. (Turkish).  104
More easy to be broken than the house of a spider. (Arabian).
  A simile taken from the Koran.
  105
Passions are like iron thrown into the furnace, as long as it is in the fire you can make no vessel out of it. (Hebrew).
  A simile taken from the Talmud.
  106
Rain in the morning is like a woman tucking up her sleeves for a fight. (Japanese).
  There is nothing to fear in either one or the other.
  107
Rich as an alum-seller. (Osmanli).
  “Alum is used as an amulet to preserve children from the evil eye. A little ring of blue glass, a bit of alum, a verse of the Koran, sewn up in a triangular bag, are fixed on the child’s takiye’ (scull-cap). Most Oriental families, even Christians, practise this superstition. They even employ it for their cattle, horses, etc. Hence the alum-seller has a good trade.”—E. J. Davis.
  108
Scarcer than the nose of the lion. (Arabian).  109
She is quiet as a wasp in one’s nose. (English).  110
Strife is like the plank in a bridge—the longer it exists the firmer it becomes. (Hebrew).
  “Strife is like the aperture of a leakage: as [the aperture] widens, so [the stream of water] increases.” (Hebrew).
  111
The difference is as great as that between an elephant and a mosquito. (Tamil).  112
The doctrine that enters only into the eye and ear is like the repast one takes in a dream. (Chinese).  113
The law is like the axle of a carriage—you can turn it wherever you please. (Russian).  114
The matter drags like a mist without wind. (Bulgarian).  115
This is stranger than that, and that is stranger than this. (Tamil).  116
To be like a castanet. (Spanish).
  To be very merry.
  117
To forgive the unrepentant is like making pictures on water. (Japanese).  118
Worldly prosperity is like writing on water. (Telugu).  119
You are drunk as a snake. (Efik—West African).  120
You are like the fruit of the tál tree. (Bengalese).
  The tál-tree fruit falls far from the tree on which it grew—hence the simile is used in referring to servants who are nowhere to be found when their services are required, and to people who neglect their kindred and friends and help strangers who live far away.
  121
 
 
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