So To Speak

11,000 Expressions That’ll Knock Your Socks Off

The world’s largest collection of English-language expressions of its kind—with dozens of word games and 351 vintage illustrations. On sale now!

“An astonishing collection!”

—Richard Lederer, author, national bestseller Anguished English

“Painstakingly compiled…offers something for everyone!”

—Orin Hargraves, former president, Dictionary Society of North America

“A browser’s delight!”

—Grant Barrett, co-host, public radio’s A Way with Words

“An embarrassment of riches!”

—Emily Brewster, lexicographer, Merriam-Webster

“A testament to a life filled with love of family and of language.”

—Mignon Fogarty, author, New York Times bestseller Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips

“Perfect for the pandemic and beyond!”

—Charles Harrington Elster, author, How to Tell Fate from Destiny

“A fun and playful compendium of sayings and idioms for fans of words, and for people like me who always get them wrong!”

—Michelle Rial, author, Am I Overthinking This?

“Harold and Shirley Kobliner gave this gift to their family first; and now they share it with us.”

—Robert Parks, president, Wordsmyth

Guess These Expressions

Hover over each image for the answer.

Tug at your heartstrings

A horse’s ass


Fine-feathered friend

Shirley and Harold hugging.

About the Authors

More than a decade ago, authors Harold and Shirley Kobliner started jotting down expressions from everyday life—phrases used by friends, heard on the radio, or read in the paper—without using Google or looking at other books. After manually categorizing 11,000 idioms into 67 chapters like “Animals,” “Gambling,” “Food & Cooking,” and “Love & Kisses,” they ended up with So to Speak. Their motivation? Expressions reflect who you are, where you’ve lived, and when you grew up—and sharing them is a meaningful way to connect with family and friends.

About the Book

We use expressions all the time, often without much thought. When you feel sick, you’re under the weather; when you feel great, you’re on top of the world. If you don’t speak up, it could be that the cat’s got your tongue, or maybe it’s just a frog in your throat. You may be fine with half a loaf, or you may insist on the whole enchilada. No matter if you’re a smart cookie or a tough one, you—and most everyone you know—has a veritable smorgasbord of expressions stored deep in your brain.
Bear with me
Bear with me
House of cards
Collapse like a house of cards

The expressions in So to Speak are more than just words; they tell a story of who you are, where you lived, and when you grew up. Someone who says a friend is “all hat and no cattle” is likely from a different neck of the woods than the person who asks, “What am I, chopped liver?” Expressions also offer a clue as to when you came of age: If you ask for the skinny on a rumor you hear, you’re almost certainly longer in the tooth than if you ask someone to spill the tea.

House of cards
Collapse like a house of cards
To make small talk
Make small talk

The book’s 67 carefully curated, often-quirky categories range from “Animals” to “Arts & Entertainment”; from “Colors” to “Gambling”; from “Love & Kisses” to “Royalty” to “Science & Technology.” This is not your run-of-the mill reference guide. Don’t look for definitions and etymologies, because the book is just the beginning. So to Speak is the launchpad for your lifelong journey to explore the universe of expressions. In fact, it’s designed to get readers off the page—and engaging with each other. You’ll find that So to Speak spurs discussion, debate, and gameplay, while encouraging the art of listening and celebrating the joy of words.

To wear to many hats
Wear many hats

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