New Brunswick History and Other Stuff

Expressions from Cuffer Down plus Signs and Omens

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From the blog at

There are two parts to this blog posting. The first part is selections from Cuffer Down, Expressions from the Nashwaak and Over North by Murray Stewart, Fredericton, 1999. Murray collected these expressions as an affectionate remembrance of his youth at Taymouth, N.B. Normally, I would not quote from such a recent work, but Murray was my father-in-law, and the family will probably forgive me. As a further excuse, I will call this selection an ‘advertisement’ for Cuffer Down, which may still be available from online sources. ‘Cuffer down’ is one of many square-dance calls.

The second part of the blog posting is from Signs and Omens from Nova Scotia, by C.V. Jamison, from the Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 6, 1893.

Together, the two parts are a glimpse into the past.


Murray Stewart, author of Cuffer Down

Expressions from Cuffer Down plus Signs and Omens

  • She’s beef to the heels – She’s real heavy close to the ground
  • She’s straight as an H – Her posture is perfect
  • He’s a big sterk – He’s a big lug
  • She’s sure big feelin’ – She certainly thinks a lot of herself
  • All they’re lookin’ for is fat pork and sundown – They’re thinking of nothing but eating and sleeping.
  • He looks like a hog goin’ to war – He’s ridiculously aggressive
  • He struts around as big as Old Cuff – He acts as if he were Lord of All
  • He’s out of his tree – He’s way off base. He’s mentally deficient or incompetent
  • Where’s my clean linder? – Where’s my clean undershirt?
  • It all depends on whose bull’s getting’ gored – It all depends on whose interests are at stake
  • That would give the cat’s ass the heartburn – That’s pretty awful
  • A moolie cow – A dehorned cow
  • Don’t be a dog in a manger – Don’t begrudge someone something you have no use for
  • They stayed till the last dog was hung or until the last gun was fired – They were the very last to leave
  • He’s off his eggs into the straw – He’s way off base
  • He’s got the brains that God gave geese – He’s awful stupid
  • It’s a shame to ring a hog that has to root for a livin’ – It’s foolish to dress him up to do dirty work
  • She can’t sing for sour owl’s dung – Her singing is just awful
  • Now save your breath to cool your porridge – You’re wasting your time arguing with him
  • She just turned into a teapot – She was very embarrassed
  • Gosh all fish-hooks – When really surprised
  • That fella is a real gorby – That fellow is a glutton. Gorby: greedy Canada jay
  • Jeet yet? Yu et yet? – Have you eaten yet?
  • We’re just havin’ potatoes and point today (or puddin’ and point) – Typical Depression menu
  • I have to be head and tail to everything round here – I have to plan and do everything around here
  • There’s a jam in the bogin – There’s a log-jam in the backwater
  • She’s just spun her dumplin – She’s done all she can
  • Don’t strain your runnit lifting that – Rennit: an animal’s stomach lining
  • Let’s set a spell and have a little say – Let’s sit down a while and have a talk
  • Purty soon, her and me, we took to talkin’ – Pretty soon she and I started talking
  • Pretnigh – Pretty nearly
  • He needs his ass kicked up between his shoulders – Severe punishment
  • The old speedie jumped the rails – Speedie: a three-wheeled one-man-powered velocipede
  • He’s the main John of the outfit (or the main Seugler) – He’s the top boss
  • I won’t vote until I’m greased – I won’t vote until my palm is greased with money
  • She should kiss her mad spot and get pleased again – She should get over her anger and smile again



Written by johnwood1946

December 21, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Posted in Uncategorized

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