Running jokes in the family

July 11, 2019

In another thread, Patriceny mentioned that her family says, "I need new swim trunks" when something makes no sense. I thought this would be a fun thread topic.

My DH says, "You've got shrivvies" or just "Shrivs! ", instead of you're right. It started with French. "Tu as raison" morphed into "You have raisins", which morphed into "You have shriveled up grapes" which is now "having shrivvies".

What does your family say, that would make no sense to a bystander?

Comments (48)

  • Sister Sunnie

    They bark a tthe end of a really good meal....... seriously! And we all laugh because we know what it means.

    My grandfather had a general store and all the neighborhood guys (and their dogs ) came in and hung out in the back by the stove. In the store was a deli counter and one of the regulars ordered sharp cheddar cheese. My grandfather bought a ten pound wheel of it and the customer only took a 1/2 pound so there it sat...... around the same time one of the customer's dogs was constantly begging for treats...... so my grandfather started carving small slivers off the wheel of cheese and feeding it to the dog. The dog ate all it could handle and when my grandfather threw another hunk down, the dog nosed it and barked. So to this day when we've eaten all we can take but still want more- becasue it was sooo good, we bark.....

    5 generations later and still a running joke in the family.

  • bpath Oh Sophie

    We meow to whoever is home when we walk in the house. It started when we had a cat who meowed when we came home, so we meowed back. Then we started meowing at each other.

    We also have buffalo for breakfast (from two of us kids mixing up buffalo and antelope, and antelope and cantaloupe. Don't worry, we grew out of it and actually speak pretty coherently now.)

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  • maddielee

    For almost every dyi or fix it job we do, it’s always completed when one of us says, “it’s better then it was. (pause) Isn’t it?”

  • LynnNM

    As a kid, when someone said something off the wall, instead of saying “We weren’t even talking about that!”, we’d say “Speaking of red socks!”. I don’t know, perhaps it was a Michigan saying. Maybe even more local, but it’s stuck with me all these years and now my husband and kids say it, as well.

  • Sister Sunnie

    I love that- "speaking of red socks" may have to borrow that!

  • patriceny

    I love this thread.

    It's fun little things like this that become shared history in a family and yet appear to make absolutely no sense to outsiders.

    Our little inside family joke started because my spouse occasionally talks in his sleep. The story mentioned above was literally the first episode I ever witnessed with him. It felt surreal. We were both fast asleep and it was after midnight, when all of a sudden he shook me awake.

    You know that panic that comes over you when someone is shaking you awake in the middle of the night? You know it's never good news....

    So I'm waking up and expecting the worst (like is the house on fire or what?!) ...and he YELLS at me, "I NEED NEW SWIM TRUNKS!". Before I could even process that or respond, he promptly threw himself back down in bed and went back to sleep.


    I'm sitting there wide awake going , what?! What just happened?And who calls a bathing suit swim TRUNKS?! He doesn't even talk like that!

    It's become our shared joke. So if someone throws out a comment that makes no sense, our response is "I NEED NEW SWIM TRUNKS!"

  • blfenton

    "I have to see a man about a dog" - don't ask me why. But if my dad wanted to get the conversation back on track or had no idea what was been talked about, he would say that and everyone would stop and just stare at him. And then he'd restart the conversation as he thought it should be going.

    I suspect it's along the line of the Speaking of red socks.

  • Olychick

    "I have to see a man about a dog" was always used as a euphemism for heading out to the bathroom when I was a child.

  • DLM2000-GW

    When someone in our family breaks something, messes up a project or we see a badly damaged car or something like a shed falling in on itself, we always say, "We can buff that out." comes from the movie Planes Trains & Automobiles.


    But honestly we have so many of those inside family jokes it's hard to pick just one.

  • jojoco

    About a dozen years ago, my family gathered around the television for a game of "Scene It". In my uber competitive haste to win, I blurted out an answer to a question along the lines of a problem called Maria. I yelled "The Hound of Munich!!!" They still bring throw that one back at me some times.

    About those Sox...

  • mrrogerscardigan

    Back in the '90s in Ottawa, there was this hilarious TV commercial about a guy taking his car to an unreliable auto repair place. After waiting forever he'd call to inquire, and the owner would assure him "I've got four guys on it right now!" Cut to four fat men sitting on the car eating their lunch.

    To this day "I've got four guys on it right now!" is our code when we think a salesperson or someone might be feeding us a line.

  • cawaps

    My dad had a lot.

    "Well, that's a deep subject!"

    "Held together with spit and baling wire."

    "If at first you don't succeed, try a bigger hammer."

    "It's the scenic route" (when we'd get lost)

    "You can't get me lost in this town!" (When he'd figure out where he was after having been lost)

    This is the kind of question where I know I have a zillion, but can't remember them until they come up in conversation.

  • aok27502

    Way back in 1968 my father took my future stepmother to visit his parents for the first time (he was a widower). There was apparently an awkward pause in the conversation, during which Grandma looked out the window and observed "they have new reflectors at the church." They had those little reflectors on sticks that you put at the end of the driveway, at the church across the street. In the ensuing 50 years, whenever there is an awkward pause in conversation somebody will say "they have new reflectors at the church."

    Dad, Grandma, Grandpa and my stepmother are all gone now but the joke lives on.

  • justerrilynn

    Lynn that is so funny! We do something sort of similar Michigan-ish. Instead of saying “speaking of red socks” if someone says something weird or off topic, we make up an outlandish comeback like “speaking of getting the purple Cadillac delivered on Sunday”. Or, “speaking of the dog choking on grandpas toenail”.

    We just make stuff up.

  • 3katz4me

    Started very recently after we picked up some friends at the airport and DH noticed a sign for Boutique Air. Now when someone passes gas he says “boutique air”. Cracks me up just thinking about it.

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri

    Many years ago there was a soup commercial where the kids kept coming in from outside asking, “is it soup yet?” Now, whenever any meal is ready at the table, I just holler out “SOUP!” and everyone knows it’s time to eat.

  • gsciencechick

    With my brothers and sisters, we joke that if someone is really cheap they "Still have their Communion money."

    Everyone pretty much was Catholic and you made your First Holy Communion around age 7-8, so you usually got money that you could save for college, etc. So, super tightwad people have hung on their Communion money.

  • norar_il

    An aunt and uncle were traveling -- aunt driving and uncle supposed to be navigating. They were passing through a city with many and confusing signs on the highway and my aunt was in a panic. She yelled "Which way do I go, Earl?" Earl's reply -- "Ain't got no idee". That's now our family reply when we don't know the answer to a question.

  • amicus

    When my youngest DS was little, he was quite mischievous and full of energy. So for the few days before he started Junior Kindergarten, I would say "Now remember that I want you to behave, the whole time you're at school." When I went to pick him up, his teacher pulled me aside. Knowing that DS might have found it difficult to stifle his energy at times, I instinctively asked "Did he behave for you today?"

    She laughed and said "Yes, and in fact I had to ask him not to behave any more." Then she explained "He wasn't responding to me all morning, and at first I thought he was just being shy. But finally I asked him "Jason, why won't you ever answer me when I speak to you?" Then she told me DS had replied "Because my mother said I always have to be Have at school, but you keep calling me Jason." Clearly he thought I was insisting that at school, he had to become some alter ego named "Have" lol!

    So in our family, if someone doesn't initially realize you're speaking to them, you can tease them by calling them "Have"...meaning they hadn't responded when you addressed them by name, like DS, many years earlier.

  • pudgeder

    These are so funny!!

    Several years ago, hubs & I were at at a Mahogony's steak house. The table next to us was so close we were practically dining with them.

    The couple seemed to be on a date, and she was definitely more interested in him than he was in her. The whole time, she was talking to him sweetly, and practically gushing. He wasn't very attentive, and seemed more annoyed than anything. .

    About 1/2 way through the meal, he excused himself to go to the men's room. She said to him "miss you!" And he says, "HUH?" And she says, again, "Miss you!" And he replies, "oh yeah, sure. Me too."

    Next day, Hubby & I were talking on the phone, and at the end of the conversation, he said, "Miss you." And I replied, "Me too, me too!'

    Now when we're in public, one of us will say "miss you" and the response from the other is always "Me too!"

    (only we are sincere- in the most silly way)


  • Olychick

    Once we were out sailing with our two closest friends, both avid bird-watchers (me, too, but they have many more years and worldly bird-watching experience). There was a beautiful sailboat near us that someone commented on named "Sanderling" and I said to my friends (and husband) "What's a Sanderling?" My friend replied, in all seriousness, "It's the name of the boat." Me, "But what IS a Sanderling?" She was so exasperated with me: "IT'S THE NAME OF THE BOAT!" Finally we convinced her that I knew that, but wanted to know what a Sanderling was, besides the name of the boat. So now, whenever we're talking and there is clearly a misunderstanding, we'll say, "It's the name of the boat!"

  • localeater

    Thank you, everyone for sharing. These are such fun.

  • jmck_nc

    These are hysterical. We've got a few in my family as well.

    We call corn on the cob an "arm" ever since a dinner 30+ years ago. My father had early onset Alzheimer's and at dinner my mother asked "who wants more corn" and my father responded "I'll have another arm". My mother calmly said "that's ear, dear".

    When we want to keep something on the down low we always say "don't mention the war". This comes from an episode of Fawlty Towers (a hilarious old British sit-com) with John Cleese.

  • DLM2000-GW

    My father used to tell this story - when he was in grade school all the students had to do an oral book report of an assigned book. At his turn, my father went to the front of the class and said, "This book told me more about caterpillars than I want to know." To this day when someone is droning on about a subject of little interest, family members look at each other and say 'caterpillars'. If the speaker is also a family member they know they've said more than enough!

  • justerrilynn

    My mom had a thing she would say if she wanted to shut down all thought to any family member thinking she was going to help look for a lost item. If someone said something along the lines of ....has anyone seen my (fill in blank)? My mom would say: “last time I saw it I left it downtown”. Of course in my family that statement got built on over time. If my mom lost her keys for example, the sarcastic choir of which was our family would go (me) last time I saw it it was on Mary’s picnic table. My brother would say, last time I saw it it was on third base of Sweats field, (sister) last time I saw it it was stuck in the spoke of Pammy’s Schwinn bike. My dad would say, last time I saw it it was on Eli’s boat when we were on lake Minnewanna .

    And on and on it would go...making up places of the lost items travels and sightings.

  • tvq1

    In our little family, we have names for things that make no sense to others--but are perfectly normal to us.

    When our son was very little he loved Fig Newton cookies. At the time there was a TV commercial with a jingle "Ya darn tootin', I love Fig Newtons". Matt always thought they were really called Darn Tootins, and we still call them that!

    We also say "fribble" the cards, as Matt could never remember the word shuffle.

    Matt is 45 now, and we STILL use these words in our family, much to his chagrin!

  • kkay_md

    I love reading these, they are so charming!

    One of the (many) expressions in our family is "Bicky-bock!"

    When our daughter was pre-verbal and we were camping, when her father left the campfire circle and seemingly disappeared into the dark, she got upset so I said soothingly, "He'll be back! He'll be back!"

    Eventually she started saying, repeatedly, "Bicky bock." We were bewildered and didn't know what she was saying, but it was unvarying. I would point to a tree, a book, a rock, "Is THIS bicky-bock? Is THAT bicky-bock?" and she would squint at me like I was crazy. Finally, one night as my husband was leaving the house, she called to him "Bicky-bock!" and it clicked! She was saying "He'll be back"!

    So now instead of saying goodbye to each other, we always call out, "Bicky-bock!" There are many other expressions of course, but this one is enduring and unvarying in our family.

  • dedtired

    Great thread. I’m laughing at these. My family has so many.

    My husband went on a Boy Scout hike at camp. After a long trek, they made dinner, which was Spanish rice. He was starving and the rice tasted so good that he asked his mother to make it. Of course when he wasn’t starving, he didn’t like it. Now when a food tastes awful we call it Spanish Rice. We also say it when we’re starving and pretty much willing to eat anything.

    of course we have the toddler words that stuck like ferigerator, hangburger, acspressstreet ( expressway), and skabetti.

  • eld6161

    We have quite a few.

    A quick one between me and oldest DD.

    Once she was relaying a take out order on the phone. I requested mine as just plain. She misheard it as Mark Twain. So of course now anything preferred plain is Mark Twain or as anything misheard as well.

  • neetsiepie

    DH and I were at a store and there was an elderly couple shopping. The man loudly passed gas and said to his wife "must have been the cream sauce" so of course, now in our family when someone (or the dog) passes gas we say "must have been the cream sauce"

    When I do something my family thinks is particularly 'mom like' they say "Help Police!". Long back story-my stepson tried to scare me one night and failed miserably. But some how that has turned in to family lore-he popped out of the bushes and I was so frightened I fell to the ground and yelled "Help!! Police!"

    Once I was angry at DH and the kids for some dumb reason and DH had a video camera going at the time. As he recorded my anger I said "this is going down for posperity" and now that is used any time someone does something that is wrong-like leaving dirty socks on the floor or not putting the milk away.

    I think I am the source of a lot of amusement for my family.

  • justerrilynn

    I’ve thought of some more, there are many. My dad is a real verse man. Now that I think of it there were some good built-in life lessons. Like, my dads favorite...kids, run to the store and pick me up a pack of Luckies “I’ll time ya”. As kids we were deemed old enough to run to town at brother 4 and me 6. I remember being outraged when I discovered we weren’t actually being timed. Being good in anything athletic got you praise and notice so we felt gypped. I turned it around to getting paid. If dad said “I”ll time ya” I knew he was desperate for his Luckies and would talk him into a dime (ten pieces of penny candy at that time). The older I got the more the price went up till Anderson’s market got hip to the dangers of selling cigs to children (even with a note from dad). Funnily, there’s a lesson here. I learned if I work , I get money. I learned how to negotiate a higher fee.

    I pulled this same stunt on my kids (not for Luckies). My kids also tried to negotiate something for themselves after discovering I didn’t actually time them. It became a game if I’d ask them to do something and where I’d say “I’ll time ya”. Must be something in the gene pool.

  • OutsidePlaying

    When I was younger, a good friend and I did a lot of needlework and belonged to a couple of sewing/needlework groups. There was one lady who would see something unusual that was not handmade and she would say, ‘I could make that’, even when it was something complex and not really worth it to do so. At least in our opinion. Both my friend and I picked up on that phrase when we were shopping, it got used, along with an eye roll, by us and some other friends, passed along to my DD, and we still use it on occasion.

    Oh yes, and the toddler words, our favorite we still use is the casherator (cash register). Then there was rubber dan (bandaid), hecalopter, and puferm (perfume).

  • blfenton

    These stories are all so cute and brought a big smile to me face. Thanks.

  • OutsidePlaying

    Mine too. I really enjoyed the funny stories and how the sayings came about.

  • Bluebell66

    My MIL always says “brocks” for brats (the sausage), so of course, that is what we call them now at our house. My step-son always said terlet instead of toilet when he was little, so we occasionally call it that, too - much to his embarrassment (he is 24).

  • grapefruit1_ar

    Soon after DH and I got married my aunt and uncle happened to stop by ( they saw us out in the yard). About 2 weeks later DH said, " Have they always had a Volkswagen?". We had never mentioned their car or visit during that time so it was a random comment.

    So, whenever DH says something totally unrelated to what we were just talking about I always say " Have they always had a Volkswagen?" We have a good laugh about it.

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

    I agree these are sweet, idiosyncratic - and funny!

    Hubby and I used to have one, but we haven't used it in awhile. It was from a TV commercial "Iced tea? At home?" - one of those commercials that make it seem like simple things are impossible and you need to get some special gadget to alleviate your troubles. We thought the commercial (for an iced tea maker) was hilarious and we would say it to each other to signify incredulity at something inane, the way people say 'really??!?' now.

    We also used to say, "You're not eating?!?!" when we didn't care for the food somewhere. Some bandmates of hubby's had said this when they were playing at a ribs festival and they were chowing down but we weren't interested.

    I can't think of any we use often now, though.

    And my dad was a treasure trove of sayings and I try to keep them alive, but some would be considered too rude to use today. They're not terribly unique; many were popular in the 20s and 30s, when he was young. Here's a few I recall at the moment: he always added 'without a shirt' at the end of Happy Birthday - to the tune of 'and many more', and if you stood in front of the TV he would say "Your father wasn't a glazier", and then have to explain what a glazier was. If someone was stinky, he'd say they were 'ripe'. He called a body of water 'the drink', and my fave, but definitely too rude, was if he saw someone - esp. a kid - picking their nose, he would say, "When you hit the white stuff, it's the brains."

    And dedtired, you reminded me that my son, when he was little, ate a lot of 'hangaburgers and pry-prys' = )

  • pudgeder

    Another one for our family, more recent.

    My grandson at age 3 1/2 would say "Merry Missmus" rather than Merry Christmas. On Christmas day, he ran into the house, threw his chubby little arms around me and excitedly said, "Merry Missmus, Mimi!'

    I replied, "Merry Missmus to you too sweetheart!"

    Him: "Why you say it like dat?"

    "What? "Merry Missmus?' Because that's how you say it."

    "NO. I say 'Merry Missmus.'

    Apparently, I was mispronouncing. Who knew??

    Now we ALL say, "Merry Missmus."

  • cawaps

    My ex used to say, " You can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose."

    When my daughter was potty training we were at a restaurant with my mom. DD was in diapers because I hadn't wanted to deal with the outing. My (now) ex took her to the bathroom. When they came back to the table, DD excitedly told me "I'm going the mando [going commando; i.e. no underwear]!" as she lifted up her skirt to show me. I see what's coming almost in time to catch her skirt before it's all the way up. Ever since, we use "going the mando" for going commando.

  • Daisy S

    This is a fun thread...I must be older than I feel because so many are quoting very common sayings of the past, but feel they were unique to Grandpa...fun to hear them again, though...
    And who doesn’t love and remember those toddler sayings? :) My Mom is 80 and her passwords are always my toddler sayings...lol

  • carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

    If I may share another moment of little kid cuteness, I'm reminded of when my son was around 4 or 5 and told me the music teacher at his preschool was named Mrs. "Fluppy". We went round and round on that, I insisting that couldn't be right, that couldn't be her real name, and he adamantly claiming it really was Mrs. "Fluppy". I finally asked his classroom teacher, and she informed me the music teacher's name was Mrs. Filippi = D

  • jmck_nc

    Just came back to say that my family has immediately adopted the "boutique air" euphemism. So many funny stories and they had us reminiscing about so many of ours. Thanks for the laughs!

  • littlebug zone 5 Missouri

    I got a real kick out of ‘going the mando’ and almost preventing the raised skirt. *snicker*

  • LynnNM

    I have so much enjoyed this thread and all of the funny, witty sayings here. Tonight while reading the newspaper, I read a Dear Abby letter about a very doubtful, passive-aggressive “friend”. And, that immediately brought to mind another favorite family saying. My very wise, funny mom used to occasionally tell us this, and I have to admit that I’ve passed it along into my children’s psyches as well:

    ”With a friend like that, you don’t need enemies!”.

  • Saypoint 7a CT

    When my niece was little, my mother explained to her that the bird they saw in the garden was a Robin, but my niece thought she said the bird’s name was Robert. Niece is now in her 40s but we still call Robins “Robert”.

    When our grandson, now 18, was small, he used to like to play with our calculator, but he called it a copulator and the name stuck.

    And we refer to flies that come into the house as “Goldblums” from the movie “The Fly”.

  • cawaps

    I was reminded of another.

    When my daughter was very young (old enough for them not to be a choking hazard but young enough not to speak well), she was very fond of mint candies. If you were going to eat one, she would offer to hold it for you. Obviously, that was not her real intention. Now, we reach out a hand with an "I hode it fo you" in our best toddler voices when someone makes a disingenuous offer, usually about food.

  • Bestyears

    When my kids were little, they would often say, "Mom, you know what's weird?" And I would always say, "Umm, a monkey wearing a small purple vest?" I don't know why or how I ever came up with that, but it became a family joke, annoying to them during those years I could so easily annoy them, and then funny again. It always brings back fond memories when someone says it these days.

  • Springroz

    We went to a family reunion in rural MN, my father‘s homeland. My uncle Bill was in an Alzheimer‘s home in another town. We were in 2 vans, because there was not a 15 passenger. Wandering through MN farm country, believing my father knew where we were going (Bill HAS to be here, somewhere...) , we called by brother, who was driving the other van, and asked if we needed to put something into the GPS, which was Tom Tom....my brother said, “No, it’s oK...we’ve Got Bob-Bob!!” So when we get lost, We’ve Got Bob-Bob!!

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