Phrases, Clichés, Expressions & Sayings
~ M ~


Mad as a hatter
Meaning: Crazy behaviour.
Origin: In olden days, felt and other hats were prepared with the aid of mercurous nitrate, a highly toxic substance which can produce a tremoring disease similar to Parkinson's disease. Such people were assumed to be mad. The most famous Mad Hatter is in Lewis Caroll's "Alice in Wonderland", but the original is thought to be the 17th century Robert Crab, an eccentric who lived in Chesham, who gave away all his worldly goods to the poor and lived on dock leaves and grass.

Alternative: Originally the expression is believed to have been "mad as an adder," meaning "angry as a snake." However, in the Canadian writer Thomas Haliburton's Clockmaker serial (1836), the adder became a hatter and mad could mean loopy as well as angry. By then it was known that mercurous nitrate caused mental instability among hatters, who used the substance in brushing fur pelts. But contrary to perception, the character in Lewis Caroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865) is not actually named the Mad Hatter. Thanks to Max Cryer.


Make both ends meet
Meaning: To live within one's means.
Origin: In accountancy, 'meet' used to be an adjective meaning "equal" or "balanced". The end was the end of the financial year in which both profit and loss accounts had to be balanced: the ends had to be met.

Alternative: From tailoring or dressmaking, the amount of cloth available might only just be sufficient to complete the garment, so that it would wrap completely around the body, making the ends meet. A saying with this sense occurs in Polish.


Make money hand over fist
Meaning: Rapid success in a business venture.
Example: Since I joined that pyramid club, soon I'll be making money hand over fist.
Origin: Sailors through the ages have used the same hand-over-hand motion when climbing up ropes, hauling in nets, and hoisting sails. The best seamen were those who could do this action the fastest. In the 19th century, Americans adapted the expression "hand over fist" - describing one hand clenching a rope and the other deftly moving above it - to suggest quickness and success.


Make no bones about it
Meaning: Don't misunderstand what I am saying, I am speaking frankly.
Example: Make no bones about it, I will be calling your boss about your proposition.
Origin: "Bones" in this case is short for boners. Although boner has other meanings, a boner is defined as a mistake. This meaning has fallen out of common usage but was once widely used.

To "make no bones" means make no boners or mistakes.


Making hay
Meaning: To be highly productive for a limited period of time when the opportunity is present.
Example: While in graduate school you may be living as a pauper, but when you get out with your new degree you will be making hay.
Origin: "Making Hay" is short for "Making hay while the sun shines". If you cut or harvest hay during inclement weather (e.g. rain) the hay becomes heavy and hard to rake and bail but even worse it will mold and become useless. You can only make hay while the sun shines.


Making tea with your navel
Meaning: Laughable.
Origin: Japanese origin.


Man up
Meaning: To accept responsibility; to take ownership; to gather your courage.
Example: If something hard needs to be done, then you ought to man up and take care of it.
Origin: Thanks to Pamela Walker.


Mark my words
Meaning: I will be proven correct.
Example: Mark my words, if you don't replace you tires you will have a blow out on your car by the end of the summer.
Origin: "Mark" in this case means to write, hence "mark my words" means to write down my words. This will enable the written words to be referenced later, presumably proving the speaker correct.


Mind your own Beeswax
Meaning: Keep your opinions and comments to yourself.
Example: If I want your opinion I'll beat it out of you - mind your own beeswax.
Origin: This came from the days when smallpox was a common disease that caused disfigurement. Those who survived the disease were left with pock marks on their body and face. Ladies would fill in the pock marks with beeswax. However when the weather was very warm the wax might melt. But it was not the thing to do for one lady to tell another that her makeup was melting.

Alternative: This may just be a childish rhyme to the phrase "mind you own business". "Biz" is sometimes used as an abbreviation for "business" and rhymes with "bees". "Biz" also sounds and is spelled similar to "buzz", the sound usually attributed to bees.


Mind your P's and Q's
Meaning: Behave properly.
Example: Since his drunk driving arrest, he has been minding his Ps and Qs.
Origin: Comes from the early pub days when beer and ale was served in pint and quart containers. The tab was kept on a chalkboard used to count the pints and quarts consumed. To watch your Ps and Qs is to control your alcoholic intake and behavior.

Not only did pub keepers maintain the count of pints and quarts consumed, they often maintained a tab for regular customers, especially sailors. The sailors tab was sometimes paid directly out of the sailors pay by the ship's captain. This to assure the pub keeper of payment.

However, this created the opportunity for the pub keeper to charge for a few extra pints and quarts. And in some cases the captain was in on this little deception, and shared in the extra payment. Hence it was to the sailors best interest to keep count of the pints and quarts. To mind his Ps and Qs.

Alternative: Lower case Ps and Qs look similar and can be mistaken for each other. When setting moveable type printing presses, "minding your Ps and Qs" is important.

Similarly, a person just learning how to write could easily confuse lower case Ps and Qs. Hence a need to be careful and "mind your P's and Q's".

Alternative: Ps and Qs may just be a childish word play for "please and thank yous"! Certainly this seems to fit with the accepted meaning.

Alternative: The printing reference is the correct one. Movable type for printing presses were always reversed (look at the keys on a typewriter or even a Daisy-wheel); the reversed 'p' looks like a 'q' and vice-versa. With so many individual letters required for even a single-page publication, a printer's devil (the apprentice who assembled the plates) had to be mindful not to confuse the two.   Thanks to Shelia Clark.


Monkey Business
Meaning: Silliness or fooling around; dishonest or illegal activities; idiotic pranks.
Example: Bubba was sent to the principal's office for monkey business - he used a monkey instead of an apple to greet the new teacher.
Origin: This expression has two meanings. One concerns comical behaviour like that of a playful monkey. The other refers to sneaky, unlawful actions. So a student could be sent to the principal’s office for monkey business and a politician can be sent to jail for monkey business.

This idiom, from 20th century America, is like many other expressions that relate human behavior and animal behavior ("sly as a fox" and "wise as an owl"), and probably comes from an older expression, "monkeyshines," which dates from the 1820s.


Monkey's uncle
Meaning: To express disbelief or skepticism at an idea, or surprise when you find something unexpected to be true.
Example: If Paul Martin remains in office, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
Origin: The publication of Darwin's theory of evolution in the "Decent of Man" was greeted with derision and a great deal of skepticism. The idea that man is related by a common ancestor to apes and monkeys was considered the most outrageous of the claims.

"I'll be a monkey's uncle" was originally a sarcastic remark by a non-believer of Darwin's theory and was intended to ridicule the theory of evolution.


Moroff Manager


“Most Progressive Day” of the Year


My giddy aunt
Meaning: My giddy aunt is an expression used to denote surprise.
Origin: The "giddy" in this instance is probably unrelated to a sense of spinning around but rather to an alternative meaning of the word indicating "impulsive" or "scatterbrained" (Old English gydig meant "mad, frenzied, possessed by God").

Send your additions, corrections/typos or new phrases/clichés to
Back to Clichés/Phrases Main Index
Fear Quotes
Inspirational Quotes
The Ultimate Phobia List - Real and Imagined - Newest

Start your day off with an emoticon breakfast
Happy Face Pancakes
Latest Word Search Puzzle: Retro Cross #35
Word Search Puzzles
Ship does its best to annul environment protection
Environmental Protection on the High Seas
Spinning female webs this Halloween
Spider Brows-her
How to close car doors that don't want to close
Ford Door Lock
How to best introduce new legislation
Ancient Greek Law
Sampler and Analyzer with split spit screen
Do friends at work help your morale?
Friendship Prayer
or 'How To Make A Blonde Pirate Patch'
How To Become A Pirate
How not to cook a pizza
Pizza Melt
Standing out among scooter safeguards
Hair Helmet
Recipe ideas from Indonesia
Thai Cooking
Full list of creditsFacebookTwitterDiggStumbleUponDelicious

Voted #1 Humor Site


QR Code


Broken Egg
Whole Human
Dyslexic Smiley
Cat On The Roof
Not-So-Smart Car
Cell Phones Can Cause A ...
Stick Shift Lock
Bacon Tree
Cat Fish
Seismic Support for Pol ...
Redneck Flat Screen TV
Not-So-Smart Lowrider C ...
Time For a Trade-In?
My Valentine
Texas Drought
God's Billboard
What Do You See? - Part ...
Some People Raise Child ...
Raise Twins
Family Tent
Nursing Home Plan
Cherokee Chief Wisdom
Most Progressive Day of ...
Male Multitasker
Rescue Pup
Armpit Inspectors
Redneck House Cleaning
Resume Bloopers
Wing Support
Smart Card Dog
Catch of the Day
Stuffed or Real Dogs?
Dog Download
Animal Adoption
Scottish Choices
World's Ugliest Dog
Paving Fixture
Redneck Abs
Scratch Lottery Tickets
Art Show
New Ball Boy
Inukshuk Ski Jumping
Balanced Food Delivery
Candle Power
Piggy Back, Back Flip
Water Coolant
Pun-e Signs
Toilet Sprinkler System
Coach Inspiring Teamwor ...
Letters to God - From C ...
Feather Fashion
Tennis Halfpipe
Ireland Declares War On ...
Lie Clock
e-mail From God
Cat Stroke
How To Solve 4:00 AM Lo ...
Dog Days of Summer
Boo Who? Surprise, Surp ...
Religious-Based Divorce
'Time To Quit' Friend
Designated Driver
Window Fall Repair
Newfoundland Is For The ...
Why God Sends Rain To M ...
Cruise Nurse
The Front Fell Off
Gas Coupon
Copy Cats
The Mother of all Mouse ...
Tom Lee Music Franchise ...
Portable Balance Beam
Redneck Olympics - Free ...
Blonde Gears
Ultimate PC Home Entert ...
HMO Judgment Day
Waffle Board
Alternative to Elevator ...
Heaven Can Weight
Garage Door Opener
Sage Advice
Just Divorced
Forest Service Complain ...
First Computer
Teeter TottHer
The 1500's
Insane Rock Climber
Face Plant
Tulip Fields of Holland
Waterfall Drinkers
Snowman Peek-A-Boo
Ladies - You 'Can' Orde ...
Milking Time On The Far ...
Louvre Paintings
Farm Football
Makeup Mirror
Fart Football
Ping Pong in Antarctica
Windows For Cats
Little Johnny's New Mou ...
Balloon Advertising for ...
DHL Express
New Police Radar - 'Sig ...
Mirror Bike
Canadian Snowbirds Movi ...
Buffalo Prod
Only in Canada: MacMoos ...
Church Squirrels
Bomb Squad Notice
Financial Meltdown
Cat Stroke
Redneck Submarine
Toddler Dance
Leaning Bookshelves
Frogs Switch
Small Bills
SailBite Ride - Swimmin ...
Squirrel Bird Feeder So ...
Flight Downer
Hot Summer Night Cure
Lean Two Transportation
Chicken Wire Art
Golf Language
Just One Goose
Redneck Driving Instruc ...
Barn Owl Beauty
Card Magic
Michael Phelps - In The ...
Redneck Camera Phone
Annual Meeting of Women ...
Female Attraction
Goose Flight
Panama Canal Locks
Highway Slide
Child Disarma-meant
Formula One Wheelchair
Gate Crasher - How NOT ...
Table Boat
South Africa Airlines - ...
Satellite 'Art' - 100% ...
Dog Holder and Coffee W ...
Tiger Wood's Dubai-ous ...
Dedicated Golfer Plays ...
How Do You Spell L-U-C- ...
Mom's The Word
Aussie Definition of 'L ...
Bird Flu Symptoms
Hot Dog or Warm Dog?
Bobbie Tickle
Annual Meeting of Women ...
Bag Hang-Up
Grouper Record
Flintstones Car
Locked Luggage
Aussie Toilet Paper
Freudian Slips
Alcohol Research
Chocolate Is A Vegetabl ...
Finger Lickin' Good!
Redneck Engineering Exa ...
Underwater Radar Trap
Redneck Windshield Wipe ...
Pillsbury Doughboy Dead ...
Aging Alphabet
Things You Should Know ...
Golf Secrets
Japanese Yen for Downsi ...
Ocean Tears
Words Of Wisdom
One Of Those Days
Politician Training
Two Feet Of Snow
Lost Cat
Pane-Full Motorcycle
The Perfect Wife
Donald Trump's Dog
African Car Wash
Shopping In Texas
Ice Fishing Contest
Feeling Inebriated?
Colonoscopy Comments
Don't Touch My Bone!
Down Under Bronco Ridin ...
Robin Williams Quotes
Bible Characters Sent H ...
Reptile Ride
Uplifting Church
How Men Think
Illegal Aliens in the U ...
How To Reduce Complaint ...
Mental Hospital Hotline
Lehman Brothers Protest
Texas Easter Bunny
Creative Clothing Bar Code
X-Ray Wedding
Prayer Conditioning
Fare Dodger
Perfect Use For A Man
Blue Angels Trainees
Magic Green Hat
A Free Ride: $10 is $10 ...
Dad's Ex-Ferrari
Why We Live in Texas
Open A Golf Course
Infringement Notice - N ...
Surfer's Dilemma - Oh N ...
Bird Cam
2 Carrot Ring
Piranha on Steroids
Identity Theft
Cheap Perfume
Preschool Parking
Canadian Food Chain
Why Dogs Bite Their Own ...
Math in Africa
Car Stool
On This Site in 1897
The Honey Truck
Gift Shop for Stray Kid ...
Pessimist's Dog
FishSun - Touching The ...
Christmas Haircut
Safest Place In Canada
Bag Feelers
Sounds The Same
Fedorable Platypuses
Born To Dance & 'Cat'ch ...
New Arizona State Flag
1930 Art Deco Henderson ...