Can You Unscramble These Common Phrases?


By: Monica Lee

7 Min Quiz

Image: wundervisuals/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

Idioms and figures of speech have evolved along with our everyday language. From "as easy as pie" to "everything but the kitchen sink," these adages originate from shared cultural experiences. And not just the American experience. For instance, in France you may hear the saying, "to seize the moon by the teeth" which means to attempt the impossible. Or eavesdrop on an Italian conversation and hear someone say "He's reheating cabbage," which means rekindling an old flame.  Where we might say "when pigs fly" the Russians say "when the crayfish sings in the mountain" to suggest it will never happen.

So why do we use these common sayings? According to, "idioms can amplify messages in a way that draws readers in and helps to awaken their senses." For instance, think about the phrase "right off the bat". Can you hear the crack of the bat as it strikes the ball? Then visualize the ball whizzing past you? The phrase, "right off the bat" is simply more descriptive than saying, "immediately." 

You'll find that the common sayings in this quiz are familiar to you. You may have heard them when growing up and may still use them today. By simply seeing the words, even scrambled, your brain will recognize the correct verbiage. Go on, you got this. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Take the quiz now. 

"Out it park of knock the." Catching on? What's the actual saying?

If you knock the ball out of the park in baseball, you get a home run, which is the best thing you can do in baseball. This term is also used in non-sports activities to convey something went exceptionally well. "My presentation knocked it out of the park!"


"Old new tricks you dog can't teach an." What does this mean unscrambled?

Although the idea of it being hard to teach someone older something new has been around since the early 1500s, you CAN actually teach an old dog new tricks.


"The has left Elvis building." What should this common phrase really be?

This phrase was originally used to disband crowds who had amassed to see Elvis Presley. Since Elvis is no longer with us, the phrase is used to mean 'the show is over, it's time to go home now.' In other words, it is still used to disband crowds.


"The gift a horse, look in don't mouth." What is the popular saying?

If you're looking a horse in the mouth, it's to find out the horse's age by noting how long the teeth are (older=longer). That is not a polite thing to do when the horse is a gift. Instead, you should be grateful and not try to gauge its worth in front of the gift-giver.


"Out of the cat, let the bag." What meow are you saying?

Don't get hissy if you didn't get this right. When you let the cat out of the bag, it means you're letting a secret escape your lips. Let's hope you're not being catty by telling that secret.


"Has a cloud every lining silver." What is this common phrase?

When the sun shines under a rain cloud, it looks as if it has a silver lining. This phrase is used to remind people to be optimistic, even in difficult times. As in the sun will shine after it rains.


It doesn't make sense. "A hard rock place and a between." How do you say it correctly?

Being faced with two tough choices is difficult, especially when neither are satisfactory. It's the best of two evils.


Here's one that's as easy as pie. "Like in a fish shooting barrel."

There are a lot of these phrases that mean it's an easy task. For instance, "easy as pie", "easy as 1,2, 3" and "like taking candy from a baby".


What's this unscrambled? "If you can't get out of the stand, the kitchen heat."

Today, the "heat" of the kitchen means a situation that is high pressure. So if you can't handle the pressure of the environment, you should probably leave.


"The the that camel's broke back straw."

A series of annoying occurrences that eventually lead to one final thing that causes a person to lose their patience.


"But everything sink the kitchen." What is this popular saying?

If you're bringing everything with you but the kitchen sink, you've got most everything you own packed up and ready to roll. If your thoughts or ideas cover "everything but the kitchen sink" it means your vision includes nearly everything possible.


"Chopped what, liver am I?" You won't be this, if you answer correctly.

Some believe this expression came about because in the olden days, liver was not as desirable to eat as other foods. So if you feel like chopped liver, you feel like your feelings or opinions are being given less attentinon than others.


"His soon money are a fool and parted." How can you change this to make it make sense?

These are definitely words of wisdom. It means that it's easy for someone acting foolish with their money to lose it ... quickly.


"Your hatch don't count before your chickens." Say what?

Everyone likes to dream about what might happen if several positive events unfold, but this adage tell you not to rely on it happening, until it actually does.


Take a breather with this easy one. "Over don't milk cry spilled."

This common phrase means you shouldn't worry about things that have already happened because you can't change them. It's in the past.


"Out of a mountain making a molehill." So, what's the actual saying?

It means you are exaggerating. A molehill is small, and a mountain is big. If you're making a mountain out of a molehill, you are escalating a small issue into a much bigger problem than it is.


"Together birds flock of a feather." What's the proper way to say this?

When unscrambled, "Birds of a feather flock together" means that people tend to hang out with others who have similar interests or values.


"Book a judge you can't by its cover." You've know this one, how do you say it correctly?

This saying means you should not judge someone or something by how they look. There is more to a person than their appearance.


You'll have to be sharp to get this one. "Not the shed in the tool sharpest."

This saying is comparable to "not the sharpest crayon in the box". It means the person you are referring to isn't witty or sharp but somewhat stupid.


"The race slow and steady wins." What is the actual idiom?

If you ever read the fable about the tortoise and the Hare, you know this one. The idiom means that if you want to reach your goal, you need to be persistent and focused, like a tortoise.


"A little dangerous is a knowledge thing." Wait, that doesn't make sense. What does?

Did you know the original phrase is "A little learning is a dangerous thing." It's found in Alexander Pope's poem "An Essay on Criticism" in 1709.


"Which or the egg first, came the chicken." Confused? You got this.

When you're using this phrase, you're describing a dilemma where it is not clear who or what caused something.


"The when the meets rubber road." So what does that mean?

There is more than one wording of this common phase, it is also referenced as "when the rubber hits the road". Either way, it means when the event actually happens and it becomes serious business.


"Shop in a bull china." Huh? What is this unscrambled?

Tripping over your feet or on nothing at all? Constantly knocking over things? Your friends might refer to you as a bull in a china shop. It's a person who breaks things because they are clumsy.


"Stones who live in glass houses shouldn't throw people." This is a cinch, what is it?

Most people think this means one shouldn't be a hypocrite. However, the actual meaning is closer to, don't criticize if you can't take criticism yourself, or "if you can't take it, don't dish it out".


"Come what goes must up down." This can't be right, what is it?

Things that go up must eventually return to the earth due to gravity. However, today people use it to describe the stock market and other types of fluctuations.


"Master of all, Jack trades of none." What should it really be?

You're a generalist, not a specialist if you're a Jack of all tracks and master of none. It means you have adequate skills in many things, but you're not an expert in any of them.


"Black the kettle calling the pot." What is the right answer?

This sage advice warns you to be careful when you criticize. Make sure you don't have the same faults as the person you are disparaging.


"Place same never lightning strikes the twice." You've heard this. What is it?

If you're out in a lightning storm, don't heed this advice. Today, this saying means an unusual event is unlikely to happen to the same person twice. Let the odds be with you.


"It's up to be cracked it's not all." Can you unscramble this?

If someone asks you about a movie that was hyped up in the press, you might say, "It's not all it's cracked up to be." In other words, it's not that great, or as great as people think it is.


"Lead but you can't a horse to drink you can water make him." What is this common phrase?

This sage phrase means you can provide all possible opportunities to someone, but you can't make them take advantage of them. It has to be of their own free will.


"The fat lady till it ain't over sings" Who the heck is this fat lady, and what's the right way to say this?

The origin of this phrase may be from opera, which is usually a very long performance and doesn't end until the star has their solo. However, its first recorded use is believed to be from Ralph Carpenter in the Dallas Morning News, March 1976, in relationship to sports. He meant that the game's outcome isn't set in stone until the very end, because things could change.


"Shame me once, fool on you, shame me twice fool on me." It'd be a shame if you didn't get this one. What is it?

The origin may come for this Italian proverb, "He that deceives me once, it's his fault; but if twice, it's my fault." It means if you fall for a deception or trick once, the person who orchestrated it is to blame. But if it happens again, you haven't learned from experience and you're to blame.


"Right day even a clock is broken a twice. What is this idiom?

This saying is comparable to a person who gives bad advice or unreliable information. Like a broken clock, that person can still be correct at times.


How about this one? "Away the doctor a day keeps apple an."

This is sage advice. It means that if you eat healthy, like eating fruits and vegetables, it may keep you from having to see a doctor for health issues.


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