Reference > Quotations > W.C. Hazlitt, comp. > English Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases
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.  6404
Need makes the naked man run.  6405
Need makes the naked quean spin.  6406
Need makes virtue.  6407
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.  6409
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.  6412
Neither a log nor a stork; good Jupiter.  6413
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.  6416
Neither give to all nor contend with fools.  6417
Neither great poverty nor great riches will hear reason.  6418
Neither heat nor cold abides always in the sky.  6419
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.  6421
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.  6426
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.  6433
Never but once at a wedding.  6434
Never cry hallo ’till you are out of the wood.  6435
Never done, like Pilling Moss. Lanc.  6436
Never fall out with your bread and butter.  6437
Never fish in troubled waters.  6438
Never good that mind their belly so much.  6439
Never had ill workman good tools. H.  6440
Never is a long term.  6441
Never offer your hen for sale on a rainy day. D.  6442
Never pleasure without repentance. HE.*  6443
Never praise a ford till you are over.  6444
Never put the kit to watch your chickens. Cornw.  6445
Never quit certainty for hope.  6446
Never rued the man that laid in his fuel before St. John. F.
  St. John the Evangelist (Dec. 27).
Never sigh, but send.  6448
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.  6451
Never venture out of your depth till you can swim.  6452
Never was cat or dog drowned that could but see the shore.  6453
        “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.  6458
New grief awakens the old.  6459
New honours change manners.  6460
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.  6463
  Two and two. Shakespeare’s First Part of Henry IV., iii. 3.
New-made honour doth forget men’s names.  6465
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.  6468
Next to no wife, a good wife is best.  6469
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.  6471
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.  6474
Nightingales can sing their own song best.  6475
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.  6479
Nimble ninepence better than a slow shilling.  6480
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.  6484
Nipence, nopence, half-a-groat lacking twopence.  6485
Nits will be lice.  6486
No alchemy to saving. H. AND WALKER.  6487
No and yes often cause long disputes.  6488
No autumn fruit without spring blossoms.  6489
No barber shaves so close but another finds work. H.  6490
No butter will stick on his bread. C.  6491
No carrion will kill a crow.  6492
No choice amongst stinking fish.  6493
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.  6495
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.  6497
No dish pleases all palates alike.  6498
No estate can make him rich that has a poor heart.  6499
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.  6502
No fence against gold.  6503
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.  6505
No fishing like fishing in the sea.
  Il fait beau pescher en eau large. Fr.—R.
No flying without winds.  6507
No folly like being in love.  6508
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.  6510
No friend like a bosom friend, as the man said when he pulled out a louse.  6511
No friendship lives long that owes its rise to the pot.  6512
No further than you can throw a bull by the tail.  6513
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.  6515
No gaping against an oven.  6516
No garden without its weeds.  6517
No good building without a good foundation.  6518
No grass grows in the market-place.  6519
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.  6523
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.  6525
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.  6528
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.  6531
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.  6534
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.  6536
No man can guess in cold blood what he may do in a passion.  6537
No man can like all or be liked of all.  6538
No man can serve two masters.  6539
No man can stand always upon his guard.  6540
No man cries stinking fish.  6541
No man ever surfeited on too much honesty.  6542
No man has a monopoly of craft to himself.  6543
No man hastes to the market, where there’s nothing to be bought but blows.  6544
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.  6546
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.  6548
No man is the worse for knowing the worst of himself.  6549
No man knows himself till he has tasted of both fortunes.  6550
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.  6552
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.  6554
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.  6556
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.  6561
No more wit than a coote.
  Bale’s Kynge Johan (circa 1540), ed. 1838, p. 7.
No news is good news.  6563
No one is a fool always, every one sometimes.  6564
No one knows the weight of another’s burden.  6565
No pains, no gains.  6566
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.  6568
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.  6571
No prison is fair nor love foul. H.  6572
No raillery is worse than that which is true.  6573
No religion but can boast of its martyrs.  6574
No remedy but patience.
  Said to a marriage-maker.—R.
No rogue like the godly rogue.  6576
No rose without a thorn.
  Nulla est sincera voluptas.—R.
No safe wading in an unknown water.  6578
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.  6582
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.  6584
No sunshine but hath some shadow.  6585
No sweet / without his sweat. WALKER.  6586
No sweetness in a cabbage twice boiled or in a tale twice told.  6587
No tempest, good July, / lest corn come off bluely. F.  6588
No, thank you, has lost many a good butter-cake. Lanc.  6589
No vice but hath its patron.  6590
No vice goes alone.  6591
No viper so little but hath its venom.  6592
No weather’s ill / when the wind’s still. CL.  6593
No weeping for shed milk.  6594
No wisdom like silence.  6595
No wonder if he break his shins that walks in the dark.  6596


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