63 Sayings You Learned From Your Southern Grandma
Our mothers and grandmothers have given us so much. They’ve passed down their recipes, their china patterns, and their parenting tips, for starters. But we’ve just realized—they’ve passed down their vocabularies too. We have inherited their styles, their heirlooms, and more than a few of their favorite sayings as well. And we’re beginning to understand what a treasure that truly is. From adages and proverbs to their favorite Southern turns of phrase, these ladies sure do have a way with words. Have you heard any of these classic phrases? Surely your grandma has told you to eat an apple a day. Or perhaps she mentioned that “pretty is as pretty does.” Maybe you’ve heard that “still waters run deep.” She has almost certainly exclaimed “Goodness gracious!” (And, of course, we have too.) We heard all of these adages growing up, and we couldn’t help but pick up a few ourselves. However, we’re starting to think that these words are passed down to us like our hair color and height. They feel so right—they must be in our DNA. Give your grandma a call, and you’re sure to hear at least one of these sayings before you say goodbye. What sayings does your grandma always use?
You’re the Bee’s Knees
If Grandma’s calling you the “bee’s knees,” you must be doing something right.
Many Hands Make Light Work
Never underestimate a little help.
Don’t Count Your Chickens Before They’ve Hatched
When Grandma offers this advice, she wants to ensure that we don’t count on something that may not happen.
A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss
This classic proverb either encourages action instead of standing still or reminds that it's hard to put down roots when you're moving.
Pretty Is As Pretty Does
Made famous by Forrest Gump, this phrase reminds us to look a little deeper.
A Stitch in Time Saves Nine
A little effort now may save you lots of effort later.
You'll Catch More Flies with Honey Than with Vinegar
Kindness works. Try it.
It Was Like Herding Cats
Have you ever tried to herd cats?
One Man’s Trash Is Another Man’s Treasure
Also: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The Squeaky Wheel Gets the Grease
The loudest problems receive all the attention.
Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover
Read a few pages first.
The Early Bird Catches the Worm
Grandma is a proponent of proactivity.
A Watched Pot Never Boils
Take your mind off things. The time will pass anyway.
Too Many Cooks Spoil the Gravy
Collaboration is one thing. This phrase is another.
A Penny Saved Is a Penny Earned
Don’t forget about that savings account.
Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse
First things first.
Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder
The jury’s still out on this one.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Another reminder to be measured about what you do and how you do it.
You Can Lead a Horse to Water, But You Can’t Make It Drink
There’s only so much you can do (but do what you can anyway).
A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats
No room for envy here.
Make Hay While the Sun Shines
Use your time wisely.
Beggars Can’t Be Choosers
Say “Thank you,” and move on.
There’s No Accounting for Taste
Though Grandma’s taste is impeccable.
A Thing of Beauty Is a Joy Forever
This phrase is from John Keats’ Endymion.
It’s been said every day, all day, for as long as we can remember.
Don’t Take Any Wooden Nickels
Beware the useless.
Birds of a Feather Flock Together
Habit, we guess.
Never Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth
A “thank you” will suffice.
People Who Live in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones
Because those walls aren’t shatterproof. Or opaque.
You Can’t Make an Omelet Without Breaking a Few Eggs
Try and try again.
A Trouble Shared Is a Trouble Halved
Don’t underestimate the power of a good friend’s ear.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater
Keep what you treasure, let the rest go.
An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Healthy eating, all the way.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
And don’t you forget it.
Early to Bed and Early to Rise Makes You Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise
A gentle reminder that Grandma still cares about your bedtime—and general wellbeing. This phrase is attributed to Benjamin Franklin.
This Isn’t My First Rodeo
Grandma knows. She always knows.
If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
If it works, leave it alone.
There’s No Use Crying Over Spilt Milk
So mop it up and move along.
You’re a Day Late and a Dollar Short
It’s not ideal.
I Love You a Bushel and a Peck and a Hug Around the Neck
‘Cause she’s Grandma, that’s why. (And because she still listens to this Doris Day tune.)
You’re Barking up the Wrong Tree
Grandma doesn’t have time for this.
Fortune Favors the Brave
Go boldly, Grandma says.
It Doesn’t Cut the Mustard
Whatever it is, it is not quite up to par.
Confession Is Good for the Soul
She already knows anyway—somehow—so you should go ahead and come clean.
More than You Can Shake a Stick at
That’s quite a lot, indeed.
Strike While the Iron Is Hot
Seize the day!
Share and Share Alike
Divide equally, and everyone will be happy.
The Apple Never Falls Far from the Tree
Whether it’s attitude or style, we get it from our mamas (and grandmamas).
There’s More Than One Way to Skin a Cat
If at first you don’t succeed, there’s surely another strategy to try.
As I Live and Breathe
If Grandma’s surprised, you’ll hear this immediately.
You’re Preaching to the Choir
You’re working too hard to convince people who are already on board.
Don’t Buy a Pig in a Poke
Grandma would not recommend buying something sight unseen.
You’re Making a Mountain out of a Molehill
Grandma’s good at offering much-needed perspective.
Any Job Worth Doing Is Worth Doing Well
She taught us this, and we took it to heart.
You Can’t Make a Silk Purse out of a Sow’s Ear
You can always count on Grandma to be realistic.
Every Dog Has Its Day
Good fortune comes to everyone eventually.
If It Had Been a Snake, It Would Have Bitten You
Keep your eyes—and wits—about you.
You’re the Cat’s Meow
It Doesn’t Amount to a Hill of Beans
Again, she’s a pro at offering perspective, which is one of the many reasons we love her.
Hurry Up, We’re Burning Daylight
AKA: “It’s time to go!” This is how Granny lights a fire under the kids, grandkids, and Grandpa.
What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander
If it’s appropriate for one, surely it’s appropriate for the other too.
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way
Encouragement, Grandma style.
Bless Your Heart
Always and forever.