Lexicon of (Dad’s) English Usage


What’s it going to take, an act of Congress?
Ah, look at those cute little hands (kissing baby’s hands)
All day every day.
All fouled up.
messed up; broken
All goofed up.
messed up; disorganized; broken
All wrapped up with joy and enthusiasm.
very happy
Any rate
Are we man enough to get this [sheep’s head stew] past our pallets
without a lot of pomp and ceremony so we don’t offend these folks?
Aren’t you smart enough to come in out of the rain?
Asleep at the switch.
not paying attention; daydreaming


Barking machine
destination. Usage: Now she’s headin’ for the barn. (Now it [e.g. wire] is going where it should.)
Beatin’ iron.
(You make a) Better door than a window
Used when you were standing in his line of sight (e.g., in front of the television)
Boogered up
stripped. Example: The threads are all boogered up.
Borrow a look.
look at
Bucket of bolts.
clattering vehicle
Build (a cake).
make; bake. Example: Enclosed please find the list she built in my notebook.
We finally got the bull by the horns.
defective, malfunction, ill. Example: I’ve got a bum leg. (My leg is bad.) He gave me a bum steer. (bad directions)
(It’s time to) bundle up this project.
Let’s go home; it is time to put things away and go home.
Business end of a hammer.
hammer head
It’s enough to make you want to drink a good grade of buttermilk
It could drive you to drink


Cabbage leaf
dollar bill
Chase the broom around.
sweep the floor
Chase this into the (waste basket).
Put this into the
(Erline, how would you like to) chase some of that equipment onto my plate.
Please pass the
Chomping at the bit.
Clattering and banging
see Hammering and banging
Climb into your uniform.
get dressed; change clothes
Climb in bed.
go to bed
Clobbered up.
Confucius say: Boy with job, him busy; boy without job, him busy too.
Now we’re cooking with gas.
Cook up
concoction; mess
Cute little


… of some description
of any kind
(to a child) Did you do your job?
did you defecate?
Did you hear that discouraging word?
Do you suppose you could fit this into your program, Erline?
Would you do this for me, Erline?]
Does this pass your inspecting eye?
Do you approve? Is this good enough for you?
Draw me a picture, Erline.
Explain what you mean
(This is ready for a) drink of river water.
This is worn out.
way. Example: That’s right, stand in my driveway (You’re in my way)
Drowning (angle) worms


Elbow room
room to work
Elbow grease
hard work
something; thing; (foreign) matter
(sneeze) Sad day, I got equipment all over my tie. Erline, could you please dish me up a bowl of that equipment?
vb. to look at something to make sure it is straight
Humorous quote (in justification of installing conduit meticulously level in a potato cellar): “Remember that even though folks rarely come here, this place is full of eyes.”


Be sure to wash your face, neck and ears.
Fine and dandy.
Fine, thanks, and you?
Fire wagon red
bright red
Fist full
hand full. Example: “This _____ cost a whole fist full of nickels.”
Fit to be hobbled and hogtied.
perplexed; angry
Floppin’ ‘n’ danglin’
loose; defective
Flying machine
Any bug with wings
Fumble rags.


Gang up
work together. Example: “Saturday three of us ganged up on basements.”
Gee willickers
Get back here, junior!
exclaimed when a tool drops or a part rolls away
Give the one-finger.
to flip the bird
Gives off a foul (pleasant, good) odor
Good, fine, and desirable
Good, high quality, inexpensively priced
mucous, snot
Lan Lay (brand of hair tonic). See also Goober.
Gookem pucky
Roof sealant for sealing exhaust fan flashing. Dielectric grease (noalox)
Gospel, parentage, birthright
Stop grinding your nose; use a handkerchief.
Gripe, groan, grumble, grunt.
Grumbled off
n. feces; v. defecate


Hammering and banging
clattering, of a poorly functioning engine, etc.
craving, appetite for
Happy day!
May you have health, faith and courage, and joy in the service of the Lord.
Instead of working they just stood around heaving clods (at spud harvest time).
Hello, hello.
Helping hand
assistance. Example: “How about loaning me a helping hand?”
Where do you suppose she hides her keys (mixing bowl, etc.)?
High quality inexpensive.
High, wide, and happy.
scattered all over
His nose is all plugged up with goober.
goober = mucous
Hobbled ‘n’ hogtied.
puzzled, perplexed, angry
How are we stackin’ up?
How could we be so lucky?
why did this happen to us?
How many nickles is . . . . . worth?
What’s the price of . . . . . ?
How much is she (baby) worth?
Huffin’ and puffin’
out of breath


I don’t mind the smell, but it burns my eyes.
I’d never be guilty of putting a price on the little urchin’s head. Some days I’d be of a mind to give him away, though.
I’m doing well for the condition I’m in.
I think, I hope, I guess.
I would say (pause) yes.
I’m in the middle of a battle, and the battle’s still raging.
Things are not going well for me.
Is it about time to take these cats for a ride (in the country), would you perdict?
Is it time to get rid of these cats?
Is that a command or an order?
It looks like it’s getting to be hair-cutting time around here. Who wants to go first?
It gets the job done.
It takes a mighty good walk to beat a ride in this old jalopy.
It was engineered and designed that way.
I’ve got the world by the tail with a downhill pull.
Things are going well for me


Jeepers, folks
very large number
car. Example: Be careful as you back the jitney out of the driveway, now.
It gives me the jitters to walk that close to the edge.
Jump in the jitney.
get into the car
Jump in the tub.
take a bath


Keep lookin’ ’til you find it.
Keep your feet on the (tricycle) pedals when you go downhill.
Killy-wiggle trap
Jumbled mess of wires


Let’s stake a post and see if we’re moving.
when Mom’s at the wheel, driving slowly
used in place of the adverbial suffix -ly. Example: “Drive nice and careful-like, now.”
Loan me a helping hand, please.
Please help me


May I make a suggestion in a friendly sort of way?
Does that meet with your approval? Yes it meets with my approval. Did you ask your mother if it meets with her approval?
Mexican dragline
shovel (He referred to a steam shovel as a dragline.)
Miss Mary.
Mary Sowby Whipple
We’ve got this monkey by the tail
We’ve got this all figured out.
Unclear utterance
My hand sprung a leak
My hand is bleeding
My patience is wearing tissue paper thin.
My tapeworm says
I’m hungry
My thinkin’ machine seems to be all goofed up lately.
My memory is failing


What’s happening in your neck of the woods?
Never force it, just use a bigger hammer!
Nickels; nickels and dimes
Noise box
Now she’s headin’ for the barn.
Now it is working correctly; now it is pointing in the right direction


Okum dokum.
One boy (on the job) = a whole boy; two boys = half a boy; three boys = no boys at all.
One thing and another


Your mother is chomping at the bit to get this parade on the road.
Pardon me, I got my wires crossed.
Sorry, I must be mistaken
Park our coats
hang our coats. Example: “Where should we park our coats?”
Park your lid.
take off your hat
Does this pass your inspecting eye?
say; express an opinion
Picture frame
toilet seat
Piece of equipment.
Piece of hardware
Pile of boards
anything built of wood
We’ve got orders piled sky-high
Please, thanks.
Yes, please
Are you playing dead?
Wake up!
Plumb (good, rotten, etc)
very, completely, totally
(this deal) is pointin’ off towards the moon.
this is crooked
Without a lot of pomp and ceremony
agenda, thing. “What’s on your program for this afternoon?”
Pull the choker.
Flush the toilet
Pull the string.
Flush the toilet


(You boys) quit tantalizing each other.
quit fighting


Are we goint to the races? Where is the race?
(Spoken if the driver is driving too fast.)
Rake up
gather, assemble, raise funds.
Rattlin’ and bangin’
floppin’ and danglin’
Ready and rarin’ to go
all set to begin
Relax, Erline.
That’s a revolting development!
That is an unexpected or unfortunate turn of events!
Rig, rig up
Robin-egg blue
sky blue
Roll over (and go to sleep)
Roll of Northern Fluff
toilet paper
Roll out of bed
Do you have room for one more hamburger?
Round Up
Find, collect, prepare “Should we see if we can round up a bowl of beans?” (Should we try to find something to eat?)
… ever so many ruffled cars
[description of an accident]
tired at the wheel


Sad day!
used instead of any expletive
Sad sorrowful (day)
good-for-nothing (day); see Sad day!
Sandwich clamp
Save up your nickles and dimes.
Say hello.
vb. to protrude, e.g., a nail in an unwanted place
Scare the daylights out of.
Scare up.
find. e.g. something to eat
Scattered all over the creation.
messed up. cf. Clobbered up; high, wide, and happy
Screeching halt
abrupt stop
Scribe a line
draw a (straight) line
The little shaver hollered for all he was worth.
(of a temperamental person) She’s got a different mood for every day of the week.
Shuffle along.
get going
(Do you need to) sit on the throne (for a few minutes?)
Do you need to use the rest room?
(just) sitting down to a bowl of beans.
Just beginning to eat.
Sitting on pins and needles
Sky blue
light blue
Prices are sky-high.
We’d do well to have a sky-hook at this station. Hang it on a sky-hook.
a place for miscellaneous items which do not have a particular place where they belong.
wire lubricant
Slipping and sliding.
Smells like a wet dog.
stinks – used to describe someone wearing perfume or cologne
Sour buttermilk
Used in place of expletive
Spark up the jitney.
start the car
Sparkin’ right along, thanks.
I am doing fine, thanks
Spring a leak
to leak, drip
(a wee little) sprinkling of
a little bit of (liquid)
Square away
to complete; pay off. “Are you squared away?” (Are you taken care of?) All their debts have been squared away (paid off).
Squirrel tail
Bench brush. (small broom)
place, location
Stop acting soft.
Storming and steaming
Straighten up and fly right.
behave yourself
Stuff and things
Swing a deal.
get/accomplish the job. “I think we could swing the deal.”


Take a little and leave a little.
instructions to the barber; advice to his sons at a smorgasbord
Take one and leave one.
Don’t take more than your share of food at the table
Tease. Are you tantalizing your brother?
Ten gallon hat
Thank you, thank you.
thank you
Thanks muchly.
Thank you very much
Thanks Walt
Standard signature at supply houses, on bills, etc.
That grumbles me off so bad that I can’t see straight.
I’m quite annoyed
That hamburger hit my stomach like a rock.
That would be a step in the right direction.
that would be the right thing to do
That’ll teach ’em where their nickels and dimes come from.
a statement extolling the virtues of his sons’ working
That’s right: stand in my driveway!
move out of my way!
That sounds like a winning idea.
They just had ______’s funeral.
_____ died
Pardon me for being so thick-headed.
My thinking machine seems to be fouled up lately.
This breeze is blowing over an iceberg on its way to Idaho Falls.
It’s cold
Who wants to trade haircuts?
Let’s have a haircut.
Could you find room for this in your tool box?
Tool up a date.
make an appointment; make arrangements to do something
Tricycle motor
Twisting wires
doing electrical work.


clothes. Which uniform would you suggest I wear, Erline?
(poor little) urchin.
baby; child
Use your Danish ingenuity.
figure it out yourself


this part of the earth
I suppose we could fit one more boy in our van.
the earth; the world


Wallop the daylights (tar) out of.
spank severely
(telephone greeting) Walt Whipple, the electrician.
Waltz the broom around
Waltz this out to the garbage
take this to the garbage
(Let’s) waltz this water heater (into place)
Wee little (sprinkling of)
small amount of, esp. liquid
Went to school four years and can’t even read a blueprint (spoken of engineers).
He/she is incompetent
We’re back to 1015 North Boulevard.
we’re home
We’re the Whipple boys. We’ve got the tools to do the job, and we’re the boys who know how to do it.
(Pardon us) We got our wires crossed.
What’s happening?
What’s it going to take, an act of Congress?
Why make such a big issue of it?
What’s it worth to you?
What’s on your program?
While I was laboring in (or, as a), it fell my lot (or, was my assignment to)
used to introduce a story about his mission or some event in his life
Who’s been heaving clods?
clods = mudballs
(sniff, sniff) Who’s been poppin’ off?
who flatulated? Smells like you need to go sit on the throne for a minute.
Wide awake.
alert, intelligent, capable
I think we could work that into our busy schedule.
Would it be o.k. by you if I . . .
Would it meet with your approval if?
Time to wrap up this job.


You tell me and we’ll both know.
I don’t know.
You’d better believe it!


Mannerism: extending the blade of his steel measuring tape to point to things