Phrases you'd think people would know

I’ll admit that I sometimes speak in a rather singular manner, interjecting accents, words and phrases from countless sources, yet sometimes there are things I’d think most everyone would get - especially by context.

I was offered some simply splendid cake from the break room this morning and as I left I told the baker - a middle-aged woman who is an ad/sales rep who many years ago was a school teacher, “That cake was the bee’s knees.”

She not only hadn’t heard the phrase before, despite it’s use since about the 1920s, but apparently didn’t realize from context it meant ‘good’.

Anyone else run into situations like this with what you think are phrases in the common collective? How about phrases you use or know others use that really are rare gems?

I once told a woman that she was a good egg. She looked at me funny and said “And you’re a… good sperm?”

Correction: its use in the 1920s. OK, I’ll admit I’ve heard the phrase but it’s not really something the cool kids are saying anymore.

I said something to my boss’s boss (formerly my direct boss) the other day that lately work was like being “bit to death by ducks.” She’s a very smart person, older than me, and had never heard it before.

I’ve heard all the phrases so far in this thread but yours.

Yah, but it something most people have heard, and I’ve certainly used it. Same with “groovy” and “hip” and “square” and “cat’s pajamas” etc. It’s not what your average 15-yr-old would say, doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t know what they mean.

That’s excellent.

Well, no… it’s still used today, which is why you know it. It may not be what the cool kids are saying, but I’d expect them to recognise it if they heard it. If he’d said “the bullfrog’s beard” or “the elephant’s adenoids”, you’d have had a point – they really haven’t been used since the 20s.

I am familiar with bee’s knees because I use it and I’m only 43.

I am trying to bring back “Oh my stars and garters!” Because I really got tired of my just-turned-5 grandson running around saying Oh My God! I’ve been working on this project for about a year now with limited sucess. Won’t someone jump on my bandwagon with me?

Oh come on ! “The bee’s knees” is the cat’s pajamas of idioms ! :slight_smile:

My cat doesn’t wear pajamas, so the phrase ‘cat’s ass’ or ‘buttocks of the feline’ applies.

Now that’s just a catastrophe!

It was very cute. Since I hear that phrase all the time on TV, and since we watched a lot of TV together, I figured that eventually it’d come up. Nope. Not once in 3 years.

“Bee’s knees” was said in School of Rock, so it hasn’t fallen completely out of use.

A lot of youngish people know “the bee’s knees” from The Simpsons, but it’s only used in a ‘god, this is such ridiculous slang’ way - so it’s not surprising if others don’t know it.

Well, a couple of olde tyme phrases have gotten me into trouble.

The expression Tally Ho seems to be gone. I was gathering a number of staff to walk together to a meeting room a distance away. Jennifer (typically) was lagging a bit - so I called out, “C’mon, Jennifer, Tally Ho”. In shock a younger employee asked me, “Did you just call Jennifer a Ho?”

My youngest son was blessed with abundantly curly hair. He also went through a phase of dyeing said locks in outrageous (unnatural) colours. Apparently one of his grade 7 buddies called him a sno-cone. My suggested response, “Well I may be a sno-cone, but I can lick you”.

It was perfectly acceptable back in the forties. Clearly not so advisable in the school yard now.

I agree with WotNot on your semantics, Rigamarole.

You’re all washed up, fella. Go soak your head.

I read a lot more old books than I speak to living people, so my speaking style reflects it. I can’t name any one incident of antique-speak, but I know that I’m forever getting odd looks for phrases that I use that aren’t the parlance of our times.

I guess I should leave off the Patrick O’Brian and go hang out at a mall to learn how to speak properly.

I recently used the phrase, “He’d still bitch if you hung him with a new rope” and my 36 yo g/f had never heard the phrase. <sigh>

“bit to death by ducks.”

One of the reasons no one recognizes this is because it’s not quite right.

The phrase is ‘pecked to death by ducks’, I believe.

Now, merrily onward…

I’ve never heard this one. 44, female.

I’ve always heard it as ‘**nibbled **to death by ducks.’