More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (2024)

Editors’ note: This article was first published in print in 1994. This digitized version has since been updated to remove offensive lines. A version of this article appears in our 2019 ‘Love Letters to Texas’ collector’s issue.

Common as cornbread, old as dirt, funny as all get-out—homespun expressions link modern Texans to our rural and agricultural past, conveying the resolute spirit and plainspoken humor of our heroes and pioneers. Some sayings are instantly familiar because our parents or grandparents quoted them; others parallel the indisputable wisdom of biblical proverbs or Poor Richard’s Almanac; plenty just make us laugh. We asked twelve renowned artists to illustrate their favorite Texas sayings, and we present as well a sample of other axioms and adages common to the state—a collection of sayings as big as all hell and half of Texas.


It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
That’s close enough for government work.
Might as well. Can’t dance, never could sing, and it’s too wet to plow.
I could sit still for that.
You can’t beat that with a stick.


He can strut sitting down.
He’s all hat and no cattle.
She’s all gurgle and no guts.
He chamber-of-commerced it.

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He’s on a first-name basis with the bottom of the deck.
So crooked that if he swallowed a nail he’d spit up a corkscrew.
So crooked you can’t tell from his tracks if he’s coming or going.
He knows more ways to take your money than a roomful of lawyers.
Crooked as a dog’s hind leg.
Crooked as the Brazos.
Slicker than a slop jar.
More twists than a pretzel factory.
Crooked as a barrel of fish hooks.
So crooked he has to unscrew his britches at night.
She’s more slippery than a pocketful of pudding.
He’s slicker than a boiled onion.
I wouldn’t trust him any farther than I can throw him.


If that ain’t a fact, God’s a possum.
You can take that to the bank.
You can hang your hat on it.
You can bet the farm on it.
He’s so honest you could shoot craps with him over the phone.
If I say a hen dips snuff, you can look under her wing for the can.


Brave as the first man who ate an oyster.
Brave as a bigamist.
Brave enough to eat in a boomtown cafe.
He’s double-backboned.
He’s got more guts than you could hang on a fence.
He’d shoot craps with the devil himself.
She’d charge hell with a bucket of ice water.

Argumentative, Mad

She could start a fight in an empty house.
He’d argue with a wooden Indian.
She raised hell and stuck a chunk under it.
He’s the only hell his mama ever raised.
He’s got his tail up.
She’s in a horn-tossing mood.
She’s so contrary she floats up-stream.
She’s dancing in the hog trough.
He’ll tell you how the cow ate the cabbage.


He stays in the shadow of his mama’s apron.
If he was melted down, he couldn’t be poured into a fight.
He’s first cousin to Moses Rose.
He wouldn’t bite a biscuit.
He’s yellow as mustard but without the bite.
He may not be a chicken, but he has his henhouse ways.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (2)


So dry the birds are building their nests out of barbed wire.
So dry the catfish are carrying canteens.
So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
So dry my duck don’t know how to swim.
It’s been dry so long, we only got a quarter-inch of rain during Noah’s Flood.
So dry I’m spitting cotton.
Dry as a powder house.
Dry as the heart of a haystack.
Drier than a popcorn fart.


He’s so busy you’d think he was twins.
They’re doing a land-office business.
Busy as a one-legged man at an ass-kicking convention.
Busy as a funeral home fan in July.
Busy as a one-eyed dog in a smokehouse.
Busy as a one-armed paperhanger.
Busy as a stump-tailed bull in fly season.
Busy as a hound in flea season.
Got to slop the hogs, dig the well, and plow the south forty before breakfast.
Got to get back to my rat killing.
She’s jumping like hot grease (or water) on a skillet.
Panting like a lizard on a hot rock.
No grass growing under her feet.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (3)


Just fell off the turnip (watermelon, tater) truck.
He’s so country he thinks a seven-course meal is a possum and a six-pack.
They lived so far out in the country that the sun set between their house and town.

Capable, Experienced

She’s got some snap in her garters.
He’s got plenty of arrows in his quiver.
She’s got horse sense.
He’s got plenty of notches on his gun.
She’s a right smart windmill fixer.
He could find a whisper in a whirlwind.
There’s no slack in her rope.
He’s a three-jump cowboy.
He can ride the rough string.
If she crows, the sun is up.
This ain’t my first rodeo.

General Advice

Pigs get fat; hogs get slaughtered.
A worm is the only animal that can’t fall down.
Never sign nothing by neon.
Just because a chicken has wings don’t mean it can fly.
Keep your saddle oiled and your gun greased.
You can’t get lard unless you boil the hog.
If you cut your own firewood, it’ll warm you twice.
There’s more than one way to break a dog from sucking eggs.
Give me the bacon without the sizzle.
Don’t hang your wash on someone else’s line.
Do God’s will, whatever the hell it may be.
Lick that calf again? (Say what?)
Why shear a pig?
Don’t snap my garters.
A guilty fox hunts his own hole.
Quit hollering down the rain.
Don’t rile the wagon master.
Better to keep your mouth shut and seem a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
The barn door’s open and the mule’s trying to run. (Your fly’s down.)
Don’t get all het up about it.
There’s a big difference between the ox and the whiffletree.
There’s no tree but bears some fruit.
Skin your own buffalo.
You better throw a sop to the dogs.
Don’t squat on your spurs.
Any mule’s tail can catch co*ckleburs.
A drought usually ends with a flood.
If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.
A lean dog runs fast.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.


Let’s shoot out the lights.
We’ll paint the town and the front porch.
Let’s hallelujah the county.
Put the little pot in the big pot.
Throw your hat over the windmill.
I’ll be there with bells on.
I’ll wear my Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes.
He’s all gussied up.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (4)


Fat as a boardinghouse cat.
Fat as a town dog.
She’s warm in winter, shady in summer.
He don’t care what you call him as long as you call him to supper.
So big he looks like he ate his brother.
So big he has to sit down in shifts.
Big as Brewster County.
Big as Dallas.
Big as a Brahma bull.
She’d rather shake than rattle.
He’s big enough to bear hunt with a branch.
He’s all spread out like a cold supper.
Wide as two ax handles.
He’ll eat anything that don’t eat him first.


Tight as Dick’s hatband.
Tight as a tick.
Tight as a clothesline.
Tight as a fiddle string.
Tight as wallpaper.
Tight as a wet boot.
Tight enough to raise a blister.
So tight he squeaks when he walks.
He’ll squeeze a nickel till the buffalo screams.
She has short arms and deep pockets.


He’s got a big hole in his screen door.
She’s one bubble off plumb.
She’s one brick shy of a load.
She’s two sandwiches short of a picnic.
He’s a few pickles short of a barrel.
There’s a light or two burned out on his string.
He’s missing a few buttons off his shirt.
The porch light’s on but no one’s home.
He’s lost his vertical hold.
He’s overdrawn at the memory bank.
I hear you clucking, but I can’t find your nest.
She’s got too many cobwebs in the attic.
Crazy as a bullbat.
Crazy as Larrabee’s calf.


He could draw a pat hand from a stacked deck.
He always draws the best bull.
He’s riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels.
He could sit on the fence and the birds would feed him.


In tall cotton.
Running with the big dogs.
He didn’t come to town two to a mule.
She’s got more than she can say grace over.
So rich they can eat fried chicken all week long.
Rich enough to eat her laying hens.


If a trip around the world cost a dollar, I couldn’t get to the Oklahoma line.
He’s so broke he’s busted all Ten Commandments.
Poor as a lizard-eating cat.
Hasn’t got a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of.
So poor I had a tumbleweed as a pet.
I ate so many armadillos when I was young, I still roll up into a ball when Ihear a dog bark.
So poor we had to fertilize the sills before we could raise the windows.
Poor as sawmill rats.
He’s broke as a stick horse.
He’s too poor to pay attention.
So poor the wolf won’t even stop at their door.
So poor their Sunday supper is fried water.
Too poor to paint, too proud to whitewash.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (5)


Hot as Hades.
Hot as the hinges (or hubs) of hell.
Hot as a depot stove.
Hot as a two-dollar pistol.
Hot as a billy goat in a pepper patch.
Hot as a summer revival.
Hot as a pot of neck bones.
Hot as a stolen tamale.
Hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk.
Hotter than whoopee in woolens.
Hotter than a honeymoon hotel.
Hotter than a burning stump.
Hotter than blue blazes.
Hotter than a fur coat in Marfa.
So hot the hens are laying hard-boiled eggs.


This is hog-killing weather.
There’s only a strand of barbed wire between here and there, and it’s down (after a blizzard).
Cold as a well-digger’s knee.
Cold as a frosted frog.
Cold as an ex-wife’s heart.
Cold as a cast-iron commode.
Cold as a banker’s heart.
Cold as hell with the furnace out.


I feel lower than a gopher hole.
I feel so low I couldn’t jump off a dime.
She eats sorrow by the spoonful.
You look like you were sent for and couldn’t go.
Sad enough to bring a tear to a glass eye.
He looks like the cheese fell off his cracker.

Small, Thin

She’s frying size.
He’s knee-high to a grasshopper.
He’d have to stand up to look a rattler in the eye.
About as big as the little end of nothing.
Half as big as a minute.
No bigger than moles on a chigger.
Scrawny as Ace Reid cattle.
Nothing between the horns and hooves but hide.
Thin as a bar’s ear.
Thin as a gnat’s whisker.
Thin as store-bought thread.
Thin as Depression soup.
Thin as a fiddle string.
Thin as a rake and twice as sexy.
Flat as a fritter.
So skinny she has to stand twice to make a shadow.
So skinny you could give her a Big Red and use her as a thermometer.
So skinny she shades herself under the clothesline.

Bad, Mean

He’s such a liar he’d beat you senseless and tell God you fell off a horse.
He was born sorry.
He’s so low he’d steal the widow’s ax.
He’d steal his mama’s egg money.
He’d steal the flowers off his grandma’s grave.
He’d steal the nickels off a dead man’s eyes.
No-account fellow.
Bitter as gall.
Tough as nickel steak.
Tough as stewed skunk.
Tough as whang.
Mean as a mama wasp.
Friendly as a bramble bush.
She makes a hornet look cuddly.
A she-bear in satin.
Rough as a cob.
He looks like a sheep-killing dog.
He lies like a tombstone.
He wouldn’t scratch his own mama’s fleas.
He’s got horns holding up his halo.
We’re not on borrowing terms.
You’re so low you have to look up to see hell.
He’s so low you couldn’t put a rug under him.
He jumped on me with all four feet.
A real revolving son of a bitch.


He jumped on me like a duck on a June bug.
He jumped on me like white on rice.
He can blow out the lamp and jump into bed before it gets dark.
He gets there in one-half less than no time.
Quick out of the chute.
Fast as greased lightning.
Fast as small-town gossip.
Faster than a prairie fire with a tail wind.
Faster than a scalded cat.
Faster than double-struck lightning.
Faster than a sneeze through a screen door.
Going like a house afire.
Hell-bent for leather.
Any faster and he’d catch up to yesterday.
In a New York minute.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (6)


His breath’s so strong you could hang out the washing on it.
That coffee’s so strong it’ll put hair on your chest.
Coffee so strong it’ll walk into your cup.
Coffee so strong it’ll raise a blood blister on a boot.
He’s so strong he makes Samson look sensitive.


Look what the cat dragged in.
Company’s coming; add a cup of water to the soup.
We’ve howdied but we haven’t shook.
Put on your sitting britches.
Let’s chaw the rag.


Let’s light a shuck.
It’s time to heat up the bricks.
It’s time to put the chairs in the wagon.
It’s time to swap spit and hit the road.
It’s time to put out the fire and call in the dogs.
He’s heading for the wagon yard.
Let’s blow this pop stand.
That about puts the rag on the bush.
Church is out.
That’s all she wrote.


Hot will cool if greedy will let it.
Take a tater and wait.
Don’t get your panties in a wad.
Wash off your war paint.


Looks like she’s been chewed up, spit out, and stepped on.
Looks like she was rode hard and put away wet.
She looks like chewed twine.
He looks like Bowser’s bone.
I was born tired and I’ve since suffered a relapse.
One wheel down and the axle dragging.
I’m near about past going.


He’s got a hitch in his gitalong.
Sick as a dog passing peach pits.
All stove up.
I’m so sick I’d have to get better to die.
Sore as a boil.
Her hopper’s busted.
As full of pains as an old window.
I’ve got the green apple nasties.
He looks like death warmed over.
So sick he needs two beds.
Pitiful as a three-legged dog.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (7)


He could talk the legs off a chair.
He could talk the gate off its hinges.
He could talk the hide off a cow.
He could talk the ears off a mule.
He shoots off his mouth so much he must eat bullets for breakfast.
He’s got a ten-gallon mouth.
She speaks ten words a second, with gusts to fifty.
Her tongue is plumb tuckered.
She’s got tongue enough for ten rows of teeth.
She beats her own gums to death.
He blew in on his own wind.
He’s a live dictionary.
He’s a chin musician.
She has a bell clapper instead of a tongue.
He was vaccinated with a Victrola needle.


All cut up like a boardinghouse pit.
Grinning like a mule eating co*ckleburs.
Nervous as a pregnant jenny.
Nervous as a fly in the glue pot.
Nervous as a woodshed waiter.
She’s chewing her bit.


You were too hard to raise to take chances.
Don’t dig up more snakes than you can kill.
Whistle before you walk into a stranger’s camp.
Don’t plow too close to the cotton.
A dead snake can still bite.
A dead bee can still sting.
Don’t tip over the outhouse.


Even a blind hog can find an acorn once in a while.
Anytime you happen to pass my house, I’d sure appreciate it.
What did you do with the money your mama gave you for singing lessons?
Were you raised in a barn?
Put that in your pipe and smoke it.
Even the chickens under the porch know that.
You smell like you want to be left alone.
Go peddle your own produce.
Go cork your pistol.
If you break your leg, don’t come running to me.
Whatever greases your wagon.


Got a big hole in the fence.
I got my ox in a ditch.
He loaded the wrong wagon.
They hung the wrong horse thief.
He ripped his britches.
There’s a yellowjacket in the outhouse.

Wasting Time

Preaching to the choir.
Burning daylight.
Arguing with a wooden Indian.
Whistling up the wind.
Hollering down a well.


He broke his arm patting himself on the back.
He thinks the sun comes up just to hear him crow.
I’d like to buy him for what he’s worth and sell him for what he thinks he’ll bring.
She’s so spoiled salt couldn’t save her.
She’s so spoiled she expects spoon-feeding.


He wasn’t born, just squeezed out of a bartender’s rag.
Drunker than who shot John.
Snot-slinging drunk.
Drunk as Cooter Brown.
Drunk as a skunk.
Don’t chop any wood tonight; Daddy’s coming home with a load.
Tighter than bark on a log.
I’ve got the whistlebelly thumps and skull cramps. (A hangover.)
Calling for Earl. (Throwing up.)
Jugging and jawing.
Commode-hugging, knee-walking drunk.


Looks like hell with everyone out to lunch.
Out where the buses don’t run.


Buzzard bait.
He gave up his guitar for a harp.
He ate a bitter pill.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (8)


As welcome as an egg-sucking dog.
As welcome as an outhouse breeze.
As welcome as screwworm.
As welcome as a porcupine at a nudist colony.
As welcome as a skunk at a lawn party.
As welcome as a wet shoe.
As welcome as a tornado on a trail drive.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (9)


No hill for a stepper.
Slick as a whistle.
Easy as pie.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (10)


Like trying to bag flies.
Like putting socks on a rooster.
Easy as pissing up a rope.


He blames everything on the weather or his raising.
He got caught in his own loop.
He came close to the dollar knife.


Bright as a new penny.
Smart as a hooty owl.
No flies on my mama.
Smart as a whip.


If a duck had his brain, it would fly north for the winter.
He doesn’t have enough sense to spit downwind.
If he was bacon, he wouldn’t even sizzle.
If brains were leather, he couldn’t saddle a flea.
He carries his brains in his back pocket.
Dumb as dirt.
Dumb as a box of rocks.
Dumb as a barrel of hair.
Dumb as a post.
Dumb as a wagon wheel.
Dumb as a prairie dog.
Dumb as a watermelon.
He doesn’t know “come here” from “sic ’em.”
He doesn’t know enough to pound sand down a rat hole.
He can’t ride and chew at the same time.
So stupid if you put his brains in a bumblebee, it’d fly backwards.
If all her brains were ink, she couldn’t dot an i.
If all his brains were dynamite, he couldn’t blow his nose.
He don’t know which end’s up.
He don’t know a widget from a whangdoodle.
He don’t know nothing from nothing.
He don’t know diddly squat.
He couldn’t pour piss out of a boot with a hole in the toe and the directions on the heel.
If he had a brain, it’d die of loneliness.
So thick-headed you can hit him in the face with a tire iron and he won’t yell till morning.
He could screw up an anvil.


He gave me the wire-brush treatment.
I got sandpapered.
I’ll snatch you bald-headed.
I’ll whip you like a redheaded stepchild.
I’ll knock you plumb into next week.
He got his tail feathers trimmed. He’s been saucered and blowed.
He sure cleaned your plow.


Not what I had my face fixed for.
Like hugging a rose bush.
Nothing to write home about.
That dog won’t hunt.
I’d just as soon bite a bug.
I don’t cotton to it.


Confused as a goat on AstroTurf.
My tongue got caught in my eyeteeth and I couldn’t see what I was saying.
I can explain it to you, but I can’t understand it for you.
He ran ’em around the barn.
Cattywampus to Miss Jones’s.

Immoral, Wild

They call her “radio station” because anyone can pick her up, especially at night.
He’s wilder than a peach orchard boar.
Loose as ashes in the wind.
Loose as a bucket of soot.
Wilder than an acre of snakes.
She uses her sheet for a tablecloth.
He was born on the wrong side of the blanket.
She’s found a new dasher for her churn.
They ate supper before they said grace.
They planted their crop before they built their fence.
They’re hitched but not churched.
They’ve got a cotton-patch license.


She’s got a bun in the oven.
She’s sitting on the nest.
She’s got one in the chute.
She’s been storked.


Raised on concrete.
Doesn’t know a bit from a butt.
You don’t live longer in the city; it just seems that way.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (11)


Noisy as two skeletons dancing on a tin roof.
Noisy as a restless mule in a tin barn.
Noisier than cats making kittens.
Noisier than a cornhusk mattress.
Louder than Grandpa’s Sunday tie.
He called his hogs all night. (Snored.)
He learned to whisper in a sawmill.

Inept, Worthless

He could fall up a tree.
Couldn’t ride a nightmare without falling out of bed.
He couldn’t knock a hole in the wind with a sackful of hammers.
So bad at farming he couldn’t raise Cain.
He couldn’t hit the floor if he fell out of bed.
Handy as hip pockets on a hog.
Worthless as teats on a bull.
Worthless as a sidesaddle on a sow.
Not worth spit.
He couldn’t organize a pissing contest in a brewery.
Useless as two buggies in a one-horse town.
He could screw up a two-car funeral.
Tie a quarter to it and throw it away, and you can say you lost something.
He’s got no more chance than a June bug in the chicken coop.
He’s a day late and a dollar short.
He can’t win for losing.
He’s sucking hind teat.
I need that like a tomcat needs a trousseau.
She’s itching for something she won’t scratch for.
Why close the barn door after the horses are out?
No more good than an eyeless needle.
Like warming up leftover snow.
Like pushing a wheelbarrow with rope handles.
Like sweet-talking the water out of the well.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (12)

Happy as a hog in mud.

Good, Happy

Sweeter than stolen honey.
Sweeter than baby’s breath.
Sweeter than an old maid’s dream.
He took to you like a hog to persimmons.
He took to you like a fish to water.
Happy as a boardinghouse pup.
Happy as a clam at high tide.
Happy as a hog in mud.
Safe as Granny’s snuffbox.
Fair to middling.
Pert as a cricket.
Soft as a two-minute egg.
All wool and a yard wide.
I’m cooking on a front burner today.
If I felt any better, I’d drop my harp plumb through the cloud.
If I felt any better, I’d think it was a setup.
Fat and sassy.
All sweetness and light.
This is so good it’ll make childbirth a pleasure.
Fine as frog fur.
Fine as dollar cotton.
Fine as boomtown silk.
Fine as cream gravy.
The porch light is always burning.
Long as I got a biscuit, you got half.


Down the road a piece.
A fur piece.
Turn left past yonder.
I won’t say it’s far, but I had to grease the wagon twice before I hit the main road.
Two hoots and a holler away.


He hangs out more often than Mama’s washing.
He’s like a blister—he doesn’t show up till the work’s all done.


Shy as a mail-order bride.
Shy as a crocus.
Shy as sapphires.


As dark as the inside of a wolf.
Dark as coffin air.
Dark as a pocket.
Dark as a cow.
Dark as a blue norther.
Dark as the devil’s riding boots.
Dark as truck-stop coffee.


Handy as sliced bread.
Handy as shirt pockets.
Handy as a latch on the outhouse door.


Scarce as hen’s teeth.
Scarce as grass around a hog trough.
Scarce as rain barrels.

Dull (as a knife)

You could ride all the way to Big Spring on it and never split a hair.
It wouldn’t cut hot butter.
You could scratch your back with it and never draw blood.

Dull (boring)

As exciting as waiting for paint to dry.
As exciting as a mashed-potato sandwich.
As much fun as chopping wood.
Dull as Henry’s bone.


Independent as a hog on ice.
I don’t know you from Adam’s off ox.
Thick as the dew on Dixie.
Thick as fleas on a farm dog.
That’s two different buckets of possums.
Things are going to hell in a handbasket.
Come hell or high water.
Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.
I don’t care if it harelips the governor.
Serious as the business end of a .45.
Baptists and Johnson grass are taking over.
He’s so slow he could gain weight walking.
Out like Lottie’s eye.

More Colorful Texas Sayings Than You Can Shake a Stick At (2024)


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