SURVEY SAYS: Favorite Dad Sayings

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers to share their favorite “Dad sayings.”

From the list I offered, 12% of responding readers selected “Go ask your mother” as their favorite Dad saying, while 10% selected “Hi, hungry (or thirsty or bored, etc.), I’m Dad (or his name).” Nine percent chose “Don’t make me pull this car over,” and 8% chose “No one ever said life is fair.”

Others were selected as follows:

  • Don’t make me tell you again – 3%
  • Two wrongs don’t make a right – 2%
  • Do you think money grows on trees? – 2%
  • When I was young, we had to…, we never…, we didn’t… – 4%
  • Can you let me read the paper (or another activity) in peace? – 1%
  • If your friend jumped off a cliff, would you do the same? – 1%
  • How many times do I need to tell you the same thing? – 2%
  • You’ll be sorry! – 1%

However, the biggest proportion (44%) of responding readers chose to submit their own favorite Dad saying. Those included:

I made a mistake once, I thought I was wrong.

It's too bad you can't put an old head on young shoulders.

That's G U D Good!

Mind your manners!

Beer is cheaper than milk. I should buy that instead.

You never know when you're making a memory.

Don't let your alligator mouth overload your hummingbird a**.

That will be a tough row to hoe.

"There's plenty of fish in the sea."

He wasn't real emotional until he had grandchildren. Then he always told them, "I love you, pal!”

Mind your own rat killings.

Your most important possession is your good name. Don't do anything that will harm that.

Foreign cars have no place on American Roads (p.s. he now owns a Toyota!)

Be particular.

Because my dress was so short, he said "if you drop something, just keep going".

Shut your mouth when you are talking to me!

Pay yourself first (put money in savings, then pay the bills)

When it came to dating girls, his rule was: "you will be a gentleman or die in the attempt"

If you want something to cry about, I'll give you something to cry about!

Because as I was growing up, I was constantly saying "I can't wait until 'x'", my dad was constantly saying "You're going to wish your life away!"

My only goal in life is to live forever. So far, so good!

And Hurry Up!

No, we're not there yet... No, I don't know when ... Well you should have gone before we left!

We had a window unit air conditioner in the kitchen. I remember Dad saying, "Shut the door! You trying to cool off the whole neighborhood?"

You have to get up pretty early in the morning to fool me.

If you loaf with a cripple, you'll develop a limp.

Not my nor any kid's "favorite" but definitely the most often heard response to "Why?"...Because I said so.

If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas.

If you don't ever go "there" (someplace or something that was going to be bad for you), then you don't have to worry about making the wrong decision.

If it sounds too good to be true, it is!

All Indians walk single file; at least the one I saw did.

Don't make me take off this belt!

Don't spend all of your money on a new wallet.

Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about.

Let's not tell Mom about this!

"Stop asking for stuff."

Shake it off and get back in the game

Wait till you get out in the real world!

You can't listen when your mouth is open.

Close the door. Were you born in a barn?!

I only wish to live long enough to see your children do to you, what you are now doing to me and Mom.


They won't write "I wish I had worked more" on your gravestone

Someday you’ll understand and thank me for it.

Other than their favorites, I asked readers to share other Dad sayings they remember. Additions were:

I may not be perfect, but I'm the closest thing to it.

It never hurts to ask.

After visiting the restroom he'd ask, "Did everything come out okay?" God! How embarrassing.

Is that a threat or a promise?

Do you want a whupping? Did he really need to ask? Who would say yes to that question?

Never go in a woman's purse.

My dad had a saying "You can't learn no younger." If anyone used "I don't know how to do [whatever]" or "I've never done that before" as an excuse for not doing something, he would pull out this phrase. What it meant to me was that you can't go back in time to learn something, so you might as well learn it now. I (and he) knew the grammar was bad, but it's not as memorable said in a grammatically correct way!

Waste not, Want not

Our family is always one to go to weddings, funerals, anniversary parties, etc. Even as grown children, Dad would tell us how proud he was of us for doing the right thing by attending family functions.

When I was your age I had to walk 20 miles to school through snow drifts 10 feet high (which was partially true as he lived in a small town outside Chicago).

Be alert, the world needs more lerts.

"Toughest hide lasts longest"

There isn't any such thing as luck. There is hard work and stickability. That's how you make luck.

"Use your head for more than a hat rack."

"John Brown it, [name of person he's mad at]!”

If you think you will have a bad time, you will.

I'll kick you in the (posterior) so hard your nose will bleed.

I hope you do as well on your test as you studied!

"YOU DID WHAT?" "How did that happen?" Later it became "Can I borrow that?"

If you keep that up, there's going to be two hits. I hit you and you hit the floor.

If you loved your mother you would do XXXX without being asked. I remember this because it implied that as a kid we had the ability to read minds. Who implies that type of thing anyway?

You have to make your own decisions, but you have to be prepared to live with the consequences.

Instead of being lost we would take the "scenic route"

If it hurts, don't do it. - If you don't know how to spell it, look it up in the dictionary...(doesn't even make sense) - Life is 90% attitude and 10% what happens to you. - You choose your own attitude.

When one of us got hurt doing something "not so intelligent", he'd just look at us and say: Bet ya won't do that again, will ya? Or, "How'd that feel?"

If everyone did that...

I want.....was always followed by, Yes and people in Hell want Ice water, too.

I'm not as dumb as I look!

If you stick with me 365 days, you'll learn 365 new things.

Think fast and talk slow; listen, analyze, evaluate, prepare a fallback strategy, then act. You need to get 'squared away'.

If I take this belt off you'll be sorry!

"You live under my roof and you'll follow my rules" and "Don't you roll your eyes at me."

Be good to each other.

My daddy called me Punkin Head; if he called me by all three of my given names, I knew I was in big trouble.

When stopped behind someone at a stop light and they did no go once the light turned green - he would say 'that's the only shade of green it turns'. I always got a kick out of that.

Don't throw tigers in your path. A problem shared is a problem halved.

My dad used to say, "It looks like Shoe City in here" if he walked into our living room and my sister and I had left any shoes in the room. That was his kind way of reminding us to put our shoes away.

I'm gonna have peace in this house if I have to kill every one of you!

Statistics don't lie but liars use statistics. No education is ever wasted.

If it had been a snake, it would have bit you!

There were plenty, but some of my favorites were, "I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw." Or, in response to an obvious statement he would say, "Is a 40 pound robin fat?" Or the infamous, "that guy doesn't have both oars in the water."

If you've got that much free time on your hands, you should go find yourself another job

"Hi hungry" barely beat out "Don't make me pull this car over" and "When I was young...". Another favorite (not) was "I don't think you will ever be able to work for a living"

You do not know what stress is, just wait.

I feel for you.....I just can't reach you

Few things in life are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example.

All the nuts aren't in the fruitcake.


I lost him in 2008. Wish he could embarrass me some more.

My dad always said "Mind your manners" to my sister and I whenever we were going out. It was always a reminder to remember how we were brought up. Great advice!

Both Mom and Dad experienced the great Depression, so this saying was commonly spoken in our home.

In his later years, when friends and family would talk about living a long time in retirement, my Dad would always say, "If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."

Dad said above to me when I was about 10 after I came home obviously on the wrong side of a kid's fist fight and expecting a major lecture and punishment.

Aggravatingly...they're usually true!

One of Dad's favorite threats was "I'll kick you in the (posterior) so hard your nose will bleed." Once when I was about 14, I said something smart to Dad for which I knew I shouldn't stick around. As I was about to go out the door with Dad after me, he swung his foot in the direction of my fleeing posterior. I stuck my hand behind me to ward off the blow and he got my thumb. Next day I went to the doctor to learn that my thumb was broken and it was put in a splint. For the next few weeks, Dad would tell his buddies who came to our house that he had kicked me in the (posterior) so hard that he had broken my thumb. Even I thought it was funny. Mom, however, was not amused.

Dad's seem to think their expressions are funny every single time they say them, and then are hurt when you don't laugh the 100th time they do the old "Hi hungry, I'm dad" joke!

Dad always said "Be particular" whenever I was leaving the house. I think it was his way of saying to make wise choices in whatever I was about to do.

Most of the ones listed he used. However, with six kids, (5 girls, one boy (me)) the whole family would have to go clothing shopping at the end of summer and the local KMart had a nice counter and tables for waiting. He would have coffee, I would have whatever cola they served. He was a civilian accountant/auditor with the/DOD. He could never mention the companies he dealt with, but, I learned a lot about how contracting worked. His favorite term was "Widget". Nice and generic, but, I learned that the only real difference between a number when auditing was one million just had more zeros and commas then 100 or 1,000 etc. I also learned early on why the Government got charged so much for a single toilet seat/hammer/widget etc. The contracts are never in the governments favor and never will be. LOL

Verbatim (cont.) 

My Dad actually was not violent or ever struck us. He was just from another time.

really hated the expressions of When I was young I had to XXXX . Try that on a kid today and they would log on to the internet and say no dad, you did not walk to school in 6 feet of snow when you were 6 years old. According to the weather archives that year you were living in an area that had a total of 2 feet of snow for the entire winter.:) Technology is awesome!

Although I hated at time hearing one of Dad's sayings, he wasn't wrong. It is frightening how many times I hear myself repeating his sayings to my son.

My Dad felt very strongly that young ladies had to learn to walk in high heels BEFORE they left their home and that no daughter of his would walk through life as though she had lost her plow. I had to demonstrate that I could walk through the house in heels with a book balanced on my head before I could leave. It seemed crazy at the time, but I've spotted more than one person who could use that training regimen!

If you didn't have a sense of humor growing up in our family or tougher skin than most, you were in trouble. We all grew up well-adjusted and have instilled the same family values in our own children. 🙂

The older I get, the more I realize the wisdom in "you're going to wish your life away". Miss my dad!

From the age of 10, my father worked in construction with his father. Ultimately, my father established his own construction/contracting company. Although my parents had two girls, my father made sure we were self-sufficient and independent. He never once commented on not having a son. I still have the original set of tools in the trunk of my car that he gave me when I learned how to drive "just in case I broke down or needed them for 'something' else." They've come in handy a few times out on the "road." When I was a newlywed, our toilet broke in our house. My husband said, "I guess we'll need to call a plumber." "For what?" was my reply. After a trip to the hardware store and an hour later, our toilet was fixed. I thank my Dad for the 365 days of constant learning.

The 'squared away' comment comes from my Dad's time in the US Navy

Big man with a bigger heart. I was very lucky to have him as my father. I miss him every day!

When my son was young I used to help him with his studies. He was at an age where he refused to study so I would tell him to repeat after me "do you want fries with that"...he is now a doctor! 

Verbatim (cont.)

We grew up on a dairy farm and Dad would end all of his instructions with "And Hurry Up!" We never walked anywhere, we always ran. We still talk about it. 🙂

While not a "saying", the most important thing my dad ever told me was that he was proud of me. Making him proud governed my behavior during most of my time growing up.

Funny, I can picture myself as a teenager rolling my eyes at some comment my dad made. Good memories.

My daddy had a very distinct whistle that could heard all over the neighborhood.

uttered in a different era of sensibilities. Under today's standards, there's no way to clean up the language while getting the same meaning.

My Dad had his share of cautionary sayings (e.g., If you lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas.), but most of his sayings were inspirational or helpful. That's a reflection of the sort of man he was.

He definitely had a way with words that got the point across - no one had to wonder where he stood on anything. He was a good man and firm in his convictions. And best of all, he was right!

40 years later, I hear my Dad's sayings coming from me as I deal with my own kids.

My dad wanted us to think about things; not jump to conclusions.

Mostly admonishments for doing something childishly. How ironic. I was a child!

Verbatim (cont.)

Not always sensitive to those around him. For example, he visited us at our home in the south and compared the children attacking the food at a buffet to Grant taking Richmond. In the same conversation he made a reference to the Yankees burning Atlanta. I didn't recognize it as offensive as a kid when he said it at home in the north.

It was always, When I was a kid, I had to walk to school 5 miles, in the rain and snow, barefoot!

He used to say this to me all the time, even when I was "out in the real world" -- living on my own, working, etc.

Watching many MASH and Cheers episodes together and memorizing all of the lines has added to our repertoire of commonly reused phrases

My Dad would throw his hands in the air.

My dad was an original, kind, thoughtful man. He didn't have any common "stock" sayings that I recall. I miss him.

Living with and the caregiver for an 81 year old father who worked a 9-5 job on my work hours.

He died before I learned to be thankful. I regret that.


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.