Listening to Rural Midwestern Idioms/Folk Sayings

Sample Pages

Bat out of hell – alludes to a flying nocturnal mammal flying out of the eternal fires of hell. Refers to a quick movement or exit.
“She drove like a bat out of hell to get away from the dangerous situation.”

The apple will fall when it’s time – alludes to ripe fruit and when it detaches itself from the tree. Refers to the act of rushing into doing something before preparations have been made.
“Wait to do that: the apple will fall from the tree when it’s time.”

Two shakes of a dog’s tail – alludes to a dog moving its tail rapidly. Refers to a very short period of time.
“I’ll be with you in two shakes of a dog’s tail.

Make hay while the sun shines – alludes to the appropriate time to cut and stack or bale grasses. Refers to the appropriate time to do something.
“Let’s go and do it today; you know one should make hay while the sun shines.”

Strike while the iron is hot – alludes to iron being taken from hot coals by a blacksmith and shaped into an implement. Refers to someone who should act immediately.
“Close the deal right away; you’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.”

Too late to shut the gate after the horses are out – alludes to the gate of a corral where horses are confines. Refers to a situation where it’s too late to correct the problem.
“She left yesterday; it’s too late to shut the gate after the horses are out.”

Long row to hoe – alludes to hoeing a row of vegetables. Refers to a difficult and time-consuming task.
“She’s got a long row to hoe with the healing of her broken leg.”