The Best Old Sayings|A Blast from the Past

The "old- sayings" that warm my heart reverently are those manifested in the minds and mouths of people who had limited or no access to formal education.

I started this post some time ago but was unable to complete it due to my schedule. While it was posted, it was not done. However, this week since I’m still on New Year’s break from school, and at home recovering from oral surgery, now seems to be a good time to conclude this piece.

For some reason I woke up thinking about the post and the fact that I never finished it bothered me. Another thing, I am also thinking about my late mom who was a stickler for tying up loose ends. In fact, she would often mention how much she hated loose ends. She was a proponent of bringing closure or resolution to situations left hanging. So, today I have decided to finish this post, which is inspired by my late mom.

The post is about “old- sayings” of which my mom was a queen of. And notice that I did not say “the queen of” because there is no one person in the world who can legitimately claim to have copyright power or ownership of decades old “old sayings.” Some are culturally specific, even though people of all ethnicities have been known to reference an “old- saying” or two.

My mother seemed to have an applicable “old-saying” for almost every common life-situation that people find themselves in. Most people don’t even bother to examine the origin of old- sayings. Some may even believe they originate from simple minded folk. However, that assumption is far from accurate. In fact, almost every “old- saying” is rooted in wisdom.

The “old- sayings” that warm my heart reverently are those manifested in the minds and mouths of people who had limited or no access to formal education. These people observed life so keenly that they were able to put many of its inevitable consequences in verbal turned penned sayings. The kicker is some well-educated people miss the essence of the message because they prohibit their minds from engaging in presumed simplicity.

Apparently, people of the above-mentioned statute don’t know that having an ability to reach the masses requires an ability to deliver valuable information, training, or inspiration using translation methods conducive to people from all walks of life. If the average person must open a dictionary to understand dialog intended for common consumption and situations average people encounter, perhaps the messenger is not as well-educated as he thinks. But, enough about that!

Old- Sayings have purpose, a valuable meaning; for some access to true clarity is prohibited due to lack of cultural, spiritual, or human awareness. The meaning of many old sayings remains a mystery to haughty individuals.


Sometimes my late-mom’s “old-sayings” came out so smooth and on point that it seemed like she had studied or memorized several them the night before. And then, there are some that left us scratching our heads, like when we would take too long to finish dinner.

Usually, the procrastination stemmed from the fact that we didn’t like something on the dinner plate. We’d be sitting there “fiddling around” in the plate with the fork, when suddenly mom would blurt out, “yawl better hurry up and eat that food!”

One of us, or sometimes all three sisters would utter in concert, “I don’t like whatever it was that was still on the plate.” Mom’s mind-boggling at the time “old-saying” to us was, “I bet you’ll eat it before it eats you?” Okay, then she had us wondering, “how can food eat people?”

It would be years before the three of us sisters figured out what this “old saying” meant. You’re probably thinking why didn’t you just ask your mom what she meant? Well, we didn’t because we couldn’t. Mom’s facial expression always signaled whether it was wise to respond via question.

Long story short! This “old-saying” simply meant that nobody was leaving the table until their plate was empty! Oh, mom didn’t believe in wasting food either, so we knew not to go near the trash can with food left on our plate.

Now, many “old sayings” are ethnically inspired according to where, how and who raised you. That said, I just remembered that my grandmother was no slouch in the “old sayings” field either. She could whip one out in a hot second too. Without any further ado, below you will find 25 of the most common “old sayings” of my time, which spans over six decades.


You can do bad all by yourself

God don’t love ugly

Bite the bullet

That’s like going to hell wearing a gasoline suit

A blessing in disguise

Speak of the devil

Don’t count your eggs until your chicken’s hatch

Just because you want it doesn’t mean you’re going to get it, “people in hell want ice water but they can’t have it

Heard it through the grapevine

Work hard play harder

Kill two birds with one stone

Let your conscious be your guide

Don’t do anything that I wouldn’t do

The ditch you dig for somebody else may be your own

If you love something set free, if it loves you back it will return

Desperate acts call for desperate measures

Straight from the horse’s mouth

An apple a day keeps the doctor away

Through thick and thin

Old habits are hard to break

Even teeth and tongues fall out sometimes

A friend in need is a friend indeed

Shame on him the first-time shame on you if it happens to you again

The third time is a charm

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

The devil made me do it

There can be no rainbow without some rain

Crazy as a bat

Running away like a bat out of hell

Icing on the cake

The last straw

It will make you or break you

Time is not on your side

Promises are made to be broken

Once in a blue moon

Don’t believe everything you hear

If it sounds too good to be true it is

Every time his elbow bends his mouth opens

If his mouth is moving, he’s lying 

Beauty is only skin deep

You can’t judge a book by its cover

Study long you study wrong

Stay in the center of your expertise

Like beating a dead horse

Some people will argue with a stop sign

A dime a dozen

Every dog has his day

Don’t beat around the bush

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Don’t let your mouth write a check your butt has to cash

Between a rock and a hard place

Sometimes you must cut corners to make ends meet

When you lay down with a dog you get up with fleas

Got a taste of your own medicine

Got my second wind

Hit the nail on the head

I bet you’ll eat it before it eats you

Inch by inch is a cinch but yard by yard is hard

Don’t burn bridges

Rome wasn’t built in a day

Like giving candy to a baby

Like a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest

He or she could sell somebody London Bridge

A piece of cake

Adding insult to injury

Okay, the thing is “I’m feeling kind of nostalgic today and missing my mother’s infinite wisdom.”

That said, I would really love to hear your most memorable” old-saying” if you have one still tattooed in your memory bank. Maybe it’s already in this post? If so, let me know.

What unforgettable “old-saying” do you remember your mom, dad or another using?

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