Dick's Hatband & Adam's Off-ox

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Tom Freeland

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Oct 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/26/96
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It was suggested that the phrase "tight as Dick's hat band" had, uh,
impolite connotations. I've looked it up in a slang dictionary, and
see nothing of the kind. It means "tight" (duh), but also occurs in
the phrase "odd as Dick's hat band." The Dictionary of American
Regional English locates it in the Southeast and midwest,
particularly in Indiana. References range from late-nineteenth
centruy to recent. I knew the phrase because my (very proper
Episcopalian) grandmother used it all the time (which is why I
doubted Chris' suggestion that it was not polite); she apparently got
it from her father, from Indiana. One of the examples (from the late
19th C) added that Dick's hatband was wound around a number of times,
and not fastened properly.

D.A.R.E. also noted the phrase "I don't know you from Dick's
hatband," which it noted was equivalent to "I don't know you from
Adam's hatband," which in turn is equivalent to "I don't know you
from Adam" and "from Adam's off-ox." Anyone want to explain *that*
one to me? I've heard it from years and always been mistified.

By way of consoloation to Chris, I will admit that my wife (who first
encountered the phrase in Northern Illinois) thought it impolite and
offensive from a feminist perspective.

Tom Freeland
"One time he said, 'Don give me a line here: 'Today I passed you on the
street...' And I said
'And I smelled your stinkin' feet.' Hank says, 'Yeah, by God, get funny.'" Don
Helms

http://www.watervalley.net/users/thf4/

Chris Smith

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Oct 27, 1996, 2:00:00 AM10/27/96
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Tom Freeland said

>It was suggested that the phrase "tight as Dick's hat band" had, uh,
>impolite connotations. I've looked it up in a slang dictionary, and
>see nothing of the kind. It means "tight" (duh), but also occurs in
>the phrase "odd as Dick's hat band." The Dictionary of American
>Regional English locates it in the Southeast and midwest,
>particularly in Indiana. References range from late-nineteenth
>centruy to recent. I knew the phrase because my (very proper
>Episcopalian) grandmother used it all the time (which is why I
>doubted Chris' suggestion that it was not polite); she apparently got
>it from her father, from Indiana. One of the examples (from the late
>19th C) added that Dick's hatband was wound around a number of times,
>and not fastened properly.
>
>D.A.R.E. also noted the phrase "I don't know you from Dick's
>hatband," which it noted was equivalent to "I don't know you from
>Adam's hatband," which in turn is equivalent to "I don't know you
>from Adam" and "from Adam's off-ox." Anyone want to explain *that*
>one to me? I've heard it from years and always been mistified.
>
>By way of consoloation to Chris, I will admit that my wife (who first
>encountered the phrase in Northern Illinois) thought it impolite and
>offensive from a feminist perspective.
>

Ah well, I guess that proves, in a splendid phrase from the north of
England, that as an amateur etymologist I'm as much use as a chocolate
teapot. Accordingly, I will leave Adam and his off-ox to others!

Chris Smith (ch...@skerries.demon.co.uk)
'All the rationalist can do when left to himself is to replace one
rationalist project in which he has failed by another in which he hopes to
succeed.' (Michael Oakeshott)

ghost

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Oct 27, 1996, 2:00:00 AM10/27/96
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>From th...@WaterValley.Net Sun Oct 27 18:13:55 EST 1996
>Article: 53049 of bit.listserv.blues-l
>Date: Sat, 26 Oct 1996 22:17:51 +0000
>Sender: Blues Music List <BLU...@BROWNVM.brown.edu>

>D.A.R.E. also noted the phrase "I don't know you from Dick's
>hatband," which it noted was equivalent to "I don't know you from
>Adam's hatband," which in turn is equivalent to "I don't know you
>from Adam" and "from Adam's off-ox." Anyone want to explain *that*
>one to me? I've heard it from years and always been mistified.


The "off-ox" is the ox on the side of the team of 2 oxen
that doesn't do the lead on the technically hard stuff (like walking
around in circle to turn a crank on a well or something like that; the
ox on one side, probably the right if they're walking clockwise, & they
probably would be if they have a superstitious owner, leads the turn).

Someone who's lived on a farm back in the days of oxen (or even horsen)
can probably give better examples....

Dave Witt

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Oct 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM10/28/96
to

The "Dick's Hatband" thread put me in mind of the colorful language
employed by the folks who raised me up from a pup out in West Texas.
Maybe some of the more curious "parts of speech" might be useful to
other
'zellers. I've collected these from a variety of sources, including a
HotWired
file and a Texas Monthly article, and my Dad uses most of them.

Might as well. Can't dance, never could sing, and it's too wet to
plow.

Boastful
He can strut sitting down.
He's all hat and no cattle.
He chamber-of-commerced it.

Dishonest
He's on a first-name basis with the bottom of the deck.
There are a lot of nooses in his family tree.
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.
So crooked he has to unscrew his britches at night.
She's slipperier than a pocketful of puddlng.

Honest
If that ain't a fact, God's a possum.
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
Brave as the first man who ate an oyster.
Brave enough to eat in a boomtown cafe.

Timid
He wouldn't bite a biscuit.
He may not be a chicken, but he has his henhouse ways.

Dry
So dry the Baptists are sprinkling, the Methodists are spitting, and
the
Catholics are giving rain checks.
So dry the trees are bribing the dogs.
Drier than a popcorn fart.

Busy
He's so busy you'd think he was twins.
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.

Unsophisticated p.3
He's so country he thinks a seven-course meal is a possum and a
six-pack.

General Advice
You got him drunk, you take him home.
A worm is the only animal that can't fall down.
Never sign nothing by neon light.
You can't get lard unless you boil the hog.
Don't squat on your spurs.
Any mule's tail can catch cockleburs.
If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

Big
Big as Brewster County.
She'd rather shake than rattle.
He's big enough to bear hunt with a switch.
Wide as two ax handles.

Cheap
Tight as Dick's hatband.
Tight enough to raise a blister.
So tight he squeaks when he walks.
She has short arms and deep pockets.

Crazy
He's got a big hole in his screen door.
She's one bubble offplumb.
He's missing a few buttons off his shirt.
Crazy as Larrabee's calf.

Lucky
He's riding a gravy train with biscuit wheels.
He could sit on the fence and the birds would feed him.

Poor
If a trip around the world cost a dollar? I couldn't get to the
Oklahoma line.
If paddle boats was a nickle apiece, all I could do is run up and down
the bank
and holler, "Dang, them're cheap!".
He's as broke as the Ten Commandments.
I was 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 I hear a dog bark.
So poor we had to fertilize the sills before we could raise the
windows.
We was poor as sawmill rats.

Cold
Cold as an ex-wife's heart.
Cold as a cast-iron commode.
Cold as a banker's heart.

Sad
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 wears her bra backwards, and it fits.
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 a chigger.
Scrawny as Ace Reid cattle.
Nothing between the horns and hooves but hide.
Thin as store-bought thread.
Thin as a rake and twice as sexy.
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.

Bad, Mean
He's so low he'd steal the widow's ax.
He'd steal the flowers off his grandma's grave.
Tough as nickel steak.
Tough as whang.
Mean as a mama wasp.
Friendly as a bramble bush.
A she-bear in satin.
Rough as a cob.
He lies like a tombstone.

Fast
A real revolving s.o.b.
He can blow out the lamp and jump into bed before it gets dark.
Quick out of the chute.
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.

Greetings/Invitations to Chew the Fat
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.

Talkative
She could talk a coon right out of a tree.
He could talk the gate off its hinges.
He could talk the ears off a mule.
She speaks ten words a second with gusts to fifty.
She's got tongue enough for ten rows of teeth.
He's a chin musician.
She has a bell clapper instead of a tongue.

Nervous
All cut up like a boardinghouse pie.
Grinning like a mule eating cockleburs.
Nervous as a pregnant jenny.
Nervous as a fly in the glue pot.
Nervous as a woodshed waiter.
She's chewing her bit.

Caution
You were too hard to raise to take chances.
Don't dig up more snakes than you can kill.

Put-downs
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?
You smell like you want to be left alone.
If you break your leg, don't come running to me.

Vain
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 & sell him
for what he thinks he'll bring.

Difffcult
Like trying to bag flies.
Like putting socks on a rooster.

Threats
I'll snatch you bald-headed.
I'll whip you like a redheaded stepchild.
I'll knock you plumb into next week.

Unacceptable
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.
Well, she ain't no Maid of Cotton.

Confused
I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you.
Cattywampus to Miss Jones's.

Wild/Sexually Indiscreet
They call her "radio station" because anyone can pick her up,
especially at night.
He's wilder than a peach orchard bull
She's just naturally horizontal.
Loose as ashes in the wind.
Loose as a bucket of soot.
Wilder than an acre of snakes.
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.

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

Noisy
Noisier than cats making kittens.
Noisier than a cornhusk mattress.
Louder than Grandpa's Sunday tie.
He called his hogs all night.
He learned to whisper in a sawmill.

Worthless
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 sucking hind tit.
I need that like a tomcat needs a trousseau.
She's itchin' for something she won't scratch for.

Pretty
So pretty she'd make a man plow through a stump.
She can ride any horse in my string.
She cleans up real nice.
She has more curves than a barrel of snakes.
I'd rather watch her walk than eat fried chicken.
Pretty as twelve acres of pregnant red hogs.
Pretty as a pie supper.
Cute as a calico kitten on down south.
Cute as a speckled pup under a red wagon.

Ugly
He looks like he was inside the outhouse when the lightning struck.
She looks like she was born downwind of the outhouse.
So ugly the tide wouldn't take her out.
So ugly his mama takes him everywhere she goes so she
doesn't have to kiss him good-bye.
So ugly only his mama loves him, and she waits till payday.
So ugly she has to slap her feet to make them go to bed with her.
Well, he's kin to the Lee brothers... Home and Ug.
Looks like he was pulled through a knothole backwards.
Looks like forty miles of bad road.
Looks like he sorts bobcats for a living.
So bowlegged he couldn't catch a pig in a ditch.
So cross-eyed he can stand up in the middle of the week and see two
Sundays.
So freckled he looks like he swallowed a quarter and broke out in
pennies.
Ugly as a mud fence.
Ugly as Grandpa's toenails.
He's got a face like the back end of bad luck.
She can't help being ugly, but she could stay home.
He couldn't get a date at the Chicken Ranch with a truckload of
fryers.

Happy, Pleasant, Feeling Good
Sweeter than stolen honey.
Sweeter than baby's breath.
Sweeter than an old maid's dream.
Happy as a boardinghouse pup.
Happy as a hog in mud.
Safe as Granny's snuff box.
Pert as a cricket.
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.
Fine as dollar cotton.
Fine as boomtown silk.
Long as I got a biscuit, you got half.

Lazy
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.

Scarce
Scarce as hen's teeth.
Scarce as grass around a hog trough.

Dull /as in a knife)
You could ride all the way to Big Spring on it and never split a hair.

Dull (boring)
As exciting as a mashed-patato sandwich.
Dull as Henry's hoe.

Miscellaneous
Independent as a hog on ice.
Thick as fleas on a farm dog.
Things are going to hell in a handbasket.
I don't care if it harelips the governor.
Baptists and Johnson grass are taking over.
Out like Lottie's eye.
She can ride any horse in my string.
She calls me 'beeshit,' 'cause I'm so sweet.
I'd pay a nickel to see that.
As ugly as Death backing out of a shithouse reading 'Mad Magazine'
Back when snakes used to walk.
Back when Jesus was a pup.
Dry as a fish fart rolled in sand.
I don't give a national damn.
You buy 'em books and you buy 'em books and they just chew on the
covers.
David D. Witt
Clinton, Ohio
email: dw...@uakron.edu -or- doo...@ix.netcom.com
http://www.uakron.edu/hefe/hefepage.html School of Home Economics
http://www.uakron.edu/hefe/mssapage.html MidSouth Sociological Association
http://www.geocities.com/BourbonStreet/1723/ Dave & Susie's Guide to New Orleans

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