phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at

The Phrase Finder

Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Popular Fallacies - the Nonsense Nine
Popular Fallacies - the Nonsense Nine
Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List
Popular Fallacies - Folk Etymology

People like to retell stories about the origin of some phrase or other. I get mail, phone calls, posts on Facebook.

Some of it is informative and useful. Some of it is tosh, twaddle, claptrap - nonsense, and the reason a cherished 'a man in a pub told me' story isn't listed on this site is because it isn't true.

It's always the same old tales - plausible, but false.

Here are the most popular examples of folk etymology - the Nonsense Nine.

1. The whole nine yards - everyone's favourite; this has to be number one.

2. Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey


4. The full monty

5. The 'coffin quartet' - four for the price of one.

6. The real McCoy

7. Scot free

8. Golf

9. Raining cats and dogs

See other well-known misquotations.

Thanks to Bob Killian for the idea for this page, and for the graphic.