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Hold Your Hippogriffs
Gabe: This jackass just said that something can go "through a ferrocrete bunker like a neutrino through plasma." I get it, man. It says Star Wars on the cover. I know I'm reading about Star Wars. It's like, do they not have butter in space? Or hot knives to cut it with?
Tycho: Listen, don't get your mynocks in a... sarlacc.

The author uses a popular and/or modern phrase in a work of Speculative Fiction, and adjusts it to the setting by replacing certain concepts with their more-or-less appropriate counterparts. Works as a sort of Shout-Out to make the reader/viewer more at home in the world, while at the same time highlighting the difference; it can also be used to disguise swears. Can backfire if the adjustment comes off as too arbitrary (e.g., if the proverb refers to concepts that should exist in the speculative setting as well).

At times these are specific to an exact scene, too. The replacement concepts can be tailored to characters and current action, rather than being a common phrase of its own. A cop with an antagonistic relationship to his Imperial liaison can sardonically say the liaison's investigation team got past security like X-Wings go through a Death Star. In this way it can overlap with Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?, though it can refer to past moments anywhere on the spectrum of awesome and suck.

Related to Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp" and Future Slang inasmuch as they're all about creating immersion through language use. The difference is that Hold Your Hippogriffs is, for one, not about words but phrases; for another, Hold Your Hippogriffs doesn't always create new words, although it can. It's also related to Flintstone Theming, but with fewer puns.

Supertrope of Oh My Gods!. Not related to Call a Pegasus a "Hippogriff". The inverse of this, when a word is replaced due to never having the chance to exist, is Orphaned Etymology.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Multiple Media 
  • Transformers:
    • "Do you ever think you could be programmed  for something bigger?"
    • "Stick it in your optic sensor !"
    • "My afterburner ."
    • "That's murder on my audio receptors !"
    • "Processor  over matter."
    • "Megatron?! The cruel and vicious Decepticon leader who eats Autobot protoforms  for breakfast?!"
    • "I've got one servo  in the scrap heap ."
    • "Human! It's the Matrix or your protoform batch initiators !"
    • "You'll have to pry it from my cold, offline servos !"
    • "I'll tear out your optics !"
    • "It's a no-processor...er ." (this one even they find weird to say)
    • Also used for Unusual Euphemisms to get crap past the radar:
      • "Aww, hexagonal nuts."
      • "You can stuff it up your exhaust pipe ."
      • "What, is my gearbox  hanging out or something?"
      • "Don't just stand there with your pistons  in your servos !"
      • "Brilliant my sine function ."
      • "Kiss my skidplate !"
      • "Whoa! What crawled up your tailpipe ?"
      • "Go stuff it up your reactor linkage !"
      • "Brilliant, my boron compressor !"
      • "Blow it out your actuator !"
      • "Tell him to blow it out his exhaust port !"
      • "That restaurant where the waitresses go around without torso plates ?"
      • "Bearings of chrome steel. "
    • From an episode of Transformers Cybertron:
      Override: What are we, roast energon ?
  • BIONICLE:
    • "Hold your Rahi,  I'm coming!"
    • "All my friends went to Po-Koro, and all I got was this lousy rock. "
    • "Like Matoran  opening presents on Naming Day. "
    • "It's a load of Rock Steed droppings! "
    • "I have a feeling we're not in Karda Nui  any more!
    • "He clapped his hands over his audio receptors. "
    • "Kill two Gukko  with one stone."
    • "The metal claw's  on the other foot now!" (This one was Lampshaded, as another character tells the speaker that what he just said makes no sense.)

    Anime & Manga 
  • Pokémon: "Hold your Horsea !"
    • "I'm so hungry I could eat a Horsea !"
    • "Maybe if you weren't such a big fat Swinub , we'd get to the boat on time!"
    • "When the Swinub  fly."
    • "That Pachirisu is faster than water off a Wailord's  back."
      • Justified in that horses and pigs may not exist in the world of Pokémon, though "Hold your Ponyta/Rapidash!" would have made more sense. Plus Horsea is a really small Pokémon, so eating one wouldn't be all that satisfying either.

    Comics 
  • This is especially ridiculous in the Marvel Apes comics; "a human's  uncle" is an idiomatic phrase, except there are no humans in the Marvel Apes universe. Literally none. A few characters are mutated into human-like forms, but humanity is by and large nonexistent.
  • René Goscinny liked using this trope in his comics:
    • In Astérix, typical French curses involving God are transformed into those which involve Roman and Gaulish deities. There's also phrases like "a big girl's tunica ", a sign which tells people to 'wipe their caligae ', "in their good tablets"...
    • Lucky Luke's intellectual horse says, when crossing a river, "And the veterinarian  told me not to bathe immediately after pasturing. "
  • MAD's Golden Age parody "Mickey Rodent" had Darnold Duck turn to Mickey and call him a "dirty rat," with the word "rat" crossed out and "human" inserted.

    Fan Works 
  • In Pokémon fanfics, "Hold your Ponyta/Rapidash !"
    "FOR THE LOVE OF ARCEUS! "
  • The Legend of Zelda Fanfiction and Fancomics tend to substitute the words "God" or "Jesus" with either "Nayru", "Din" or "Farore", depending on which one is the most "fitting". Especially striking in the fan-flash series Unknown Origin, where Original Character "Biggs" would often shout "For Farore's sake!!" or "Oh my Din!!" whenever something weird happens to Link.
  • A Very Potter Musical has "Oh my Wizard-God! " and "Oh my Rowling! "
  • A Hero, a crossover between Doctor Who and Puella Magi Madoka Magica has Dalek Sec, who gives us "SON-OF-A-THAL !"
  • In Turnabout Storm, while being stuck in Equestria, where they do this a whole lot, Phoenix starts to wonder if he should do it himself.
    Phoenix: Eh... I'm sorry, I guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. (Should have I said "pony" there I wonder...)
  • In Hoofstuck, Pinkie Pie is confused over whether or not she should say everypony when talking to the reader. She can't come up with the right word (everyone/everybody) though.
    Hi everypony! Or wait a second, not everypony! Everyhuman? No, that sounds dumb. You guess you could say everyman, but why would you greet anypony with an old morality play? That's like the opposite of a party.
  • Discussed in MAGIC.MOV, where Spike doesn't see the difference between "anybody" and "anypony".
    Spike: You know, you can say anybody. Instead of anypony. Frankly I don't see what the point of that is. I would have know what you would meant if you would have said anybody. Seems to me like that's the kind of thing everybody's doing just because everybody else is doing.
  • In Harry Potter and the Dragon's Revenge Neville commented that after Michael Corner got into Cho Chang's knickers he dropped her "like an exploding cauldron."
  • In The Lion Tamer Umbridge was thinking that if she could catch Harry doing something wrong and Dumbledore trying to aid him she could "kill two doxies with one hex."
  • Common in Under The Northern Lights, just like in the canon show, but even more is added since the fic deals with more than one species. Get used to "anydeer" as well as "anypony".
  • In Rocking the Boat it was stated that Dumbledore decided not to "bemoan a spilled cauldron ."
  • In the Harry Potter/X-Men crossover Mutant Storm Snape, commenting on Dumbledore's extreme reluctance to use deadly force, remarked that "If you want to make a proper potion, you have to break a few ashwinder eggs."
  • In 3 Slytherin Marauders Voldemort's saner, freed-from-the-diary Tom Riddle persona commented that a lecture by the new assistant professor of History of Magic "set the kneazle among the jarveys."
  • In Lunch at Maxine's Ron commented to his mother that he'd told her that when she "woke up and smelled the wolfsbane" he and Luna would start coming back to the Burrow.
  • In A Marauder's Plan McGonagall stated that the "proof was in the casting" and referred to a recent trip to Thailand by Dumbledore as a "wild nargle chase." Several chapters later, Sirius was mulling over something which happened years ago and decided that it was "all magic through the wand ."
  • In Came Out of the Darkness Draco Malfoy scoffed at something and Narcissa commented "Draco remember, never judge a dragon by a single scale."
  • In Not Normal a relative of Arthur Weasley commented "No sense in reinventing the wand."
  • In Harry Potter: What I See Draco Malfoy decided not to "look a gift centaur in the mouth."
  • In The French Connection Harry commented "Did you never hear the old saying, 'Curiosity killed the Niffler'?"
  • Bait and Switch:
    • Captain Kanril walks onto her ship's bridge after a one night stand and her Andorian first officer remarks that she's acting "like a grayth  that just dined on prize alicorn ".
    • When Gaarra gets tongue-tied at the prospect of the Bajor having a Cardassian bartender in Ten Forward, said bartender says to him, "vole  got your tongue, Commander Reshek?" (For reference, a Cardassian vole.)
    • From "Reality Is Fluid", a Challenge Fic starring the same characters, Tess, the aforementioned Andorian, says that the Bajor has "a cinder's chance in the Northern Wastes" of taking out an enormous Undine fleet. This makes for something of an Inverted Trope version, as the Northern Wastes of Andoria are nothing but glaciers.
  • In Mockingbird Harry commented that he should probably "grip the broom by the handle ."

    Films — Animation 
  • Balto:
    • "That's 'cause you're looking at the bowl  half empty."
    • "It's not exactly a one-dog  show, Dixie."
    • "I'm sticking here until I'm sure you can stand on own four  feet.
    • "Balto, I was so scared, I got people  bumps!
  • A lot of Disney's humor is based on this trope.
    • Aladdin:
      • "Don't stand until the rug  has come to a complete stop."
      • "Wake up and smell the hummus. "
      • "Mr. Doubting Mustafa. "
      • "Allah  forbid you have any daughters."
      • "That two-faced son of a Jackal! "
      • "Hold onto your turban,  kid!"
      • "It never fails, you get in the bath, and there's a rub  at the lamp. "
      • The Aladdin series also does this, with lines like "In a Gomorrah  minute!"
    • Hercules
      • "Holy Hera! "
      • "Is this an audience or a mosaic? "
      • "Wanna buy a sundial? "
      • "The honest-to-Zeus  truth."
      • Thebes is called the "Big Olive. "
      • "Keep your toga  on, pal!"
      • "Someone call IX-I-I! "
      • "That's it, I'm moving to Sparta! "
      • "He's just another chariot  chaser."
      • "...but I could see through that in a Peloponnesian  minute."
    • The Little Mermaid:
      • "You're not getting cold fins  now, are you?"
      • "You are such a guppy! "
      • "As long as you live under my ocean , you live under my rules!"
      • "You give them an inch, they'll swim  all over you."
      • "The seaweed  is always greener / In somebody else's lake! "
      • "Someone needs to nail that girl's fins  to the floor."
      • "It's time Ursula took matters into her own tentacles! "
    • The Lion King
      • "This child is getting wildly out of wing. "
      • "I'm so hungry I could eat a whole zebra. "
    • Pocahontas
      • "It's enough to make your sap  boil." (said by Grandmother Willow)
    • Mulan
      • "You don't meet a girl like that every dynasty. "
      • "Who spit  in her bean curd? "
    • Dumbo
      • "Girls, girls, listen. Have I got a trunk  full of dirt."
  • Osmosis Jones: "You're pulling my membrane! "
    • "You saved my cytoplasm  back there."
    • "I should be out in the veins  fighting disease! "
  • Happy Feet: "Can you speak plain penguin,  please?" and "I'm speaking plain penguin. "
  • Toy Story has "Son of a building block! " and "Save your batteries. "
  • A Bug's Life: "Ladies and gentlebugs!  Larvae  of all stages!  Rub  your legs  together for the world's greatest bug circus!"
  • Cars:
    • "Ladies and gentlecars ..."
    • "His undercarriage  is showing."
    • "Float like a Cadillac , sting like a Beamer ."
    • Tractor  tipping.
    • RustEze Medicated Bumper  Ointment.
    • "The loser will be stripped of all modifications and become... ...STOCK!!! "
  • Hoodwinked: "Well well, someone hibernated  on the wrong side of the cave ."
  • Finding Nemo: "It'll be a piece of kelp ."
    • A little girl octopus, upon being startled, says, "Oh, you mad me ink "
  • How to Train Your Dragon: "Odin  help us."
  • Horton Hears a Who!: "That's why my little Rudy is pouch -schooled.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Planet of the Apes:
    • "Human  see, human  do."
    • Considering that the whole franchise was a commentary about racism, you can't forget a line like "The only good human  is a DEAD human! "
  • Alexander manages to naturally do this, replacing phrases like "By God!" with "By Zeus!" or "In the name of the Gods!" instead of the singular, and other such things using ancient Greek-era things in place of more modern phrases and outbursts. A few times, it tends to get too clunky and usual, with things like "By Athena's Justice, this girl has spirit" that tend to be less artificial and more sticking out like a sore thumb.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had one of the military men threaten that if the Klingons declared war, "we'd clean their chronometers. "
  • At the climax of Oh, God! You Devil, when the Devil (George Burns) loses his nerve in a poker showdown with God (also George Burns), God comments, "I put the fear of me  into you."
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Had Kirk mentioning "Moon over Rigel- 7 " as a potential campfire sing-along. When this movie was later riffed, Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy mocked the use of this trope with such song titles as I Left My Heart On Tau Ceti Five  and I Have Thirteen Eyes For You.
  • Lord of the Rings "As the Nazgűl flies."
    • Justified, since they are actually talking about Nazgűl flying there.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan had "What beams you into this neck of the woods?"
  • In Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, McCoy says Spock is "not exactly working  on all thrusters ".
  • In Revenge of the Sith, Obi-Wan says that his hunt for General Grievous on Utapau "May just be a wild bantha  chase."

    Literature 
  • From Life, the Universe and Everything: "Wouldn't stand a whelk's  chance in a supernova ." Much to Arther Dent's confusion.
  • In The Integral Trees by Larry Niven, several characters use the expression "feed the tree," which means, "The words you are saying are a commonly used form of natural fertilizer."
  • The Trope Namer is Harry Potter; several of these expressions we hear from Mrs. Figg after she's revealed to be a Squib:
    • "Hold your hippogriffs! "
    • "What's got your wand  in a knot? "
    • "No use crying over spilt potion. "
    • "The cat's among the pixies  now."
    • "Wasn't enough room to swing a kneazle. "
    • "Might as well be hanged for a dragon  as an egg. "
    • "Fell off the back of a broom. "
    • "Son of a Bludger! 
    • "God rest ye, merry hippogriffs " being sung by Sirius at Christmas in Order of the Phoenix. (This may very well have been Sirius messing with the words for his own sake, since he was attending on Buckbeak at the time.)
    • "Just yanking your wand. "
    • "Get off his high hippogriff. "
    • "Which came first, the phoenix  or the flame? "
    • "It's like losing a Knut  and finding a Galleon ."
      • Justified in this case, as wizards have their own currency and know nothing of Muggle money.
    • In fact, in the Film, the band in one movie does a song pretty much entirely of this trope.
    • They also tend to refer to Merlin in addition to God. Which makes sense, one supposes.
    • Speaking of swearing by Merlin, "Merlin's pants!" could very well be a stand-in for "Holy shit!", considering the following:
      • "Pants" is British slang for "rubbish";
      • Another term for "rubbish" is "bullshit" or simply "shit"; and
      • When Hermione uses the term, Ron realizes she's got her wand in a much tighter knot than usual, for her to be saying that (also consider that he is himself guilty of swearing loudly numerous times throughout the series).
      • Speaking of Merlin's pants, quoth Ron: "How in the name of Merlin's pants  have you managed to get your hands on those Horcrux books?"
    • Rita Skeeter also once makes reference to a "bring and fly  sale".
  • In the Discworld books, most of the examples of this trope are simply their setting-appropriate equivalents. E.G.:
    • "...guaranteed to have fallen off the back of an oxcart. " (Guards! Guards!)
    • "He's going to go totally Librarian poo. " (The Fifth Elephant and The Truth)
    • "...as the high priest  said to the vestal virgin. " (Witches Abroad)
    • "Crysophrase, he not give a coprolith  about that stuff" (Men at Arms) and "I'm in deep copro,  right?" (Thud!). (Trolls are living rock, and a coprolith is fossilised animal dung.)
    • "Been there, done that, bought the doublet. " (The Fifth Elephant)
    • Men at Arms has "...some Watchman blundering around upsetting things, like a loose ... a loose siege catapult. "; "...up the Ankh  without a paddle"; "Does a dragon explode  in the woods?" (although the original version is also in use); and "Like a fish needs a ... a thing that doesn't work underwater , sir."
    • "When the midden  hits the windmill. " (Thief of Time and The Fifth Elephant)
    • "How many trolls does it take to change a lamp wick? " (Sourcery)
    • A weird one that started out as a Nanny Ogg malapropism in Carpe Jugulum, and then somehow became the accepted version of the phrase in later books is: "The leopard does not change his shorts." In Unseen Academicals, this phrase's complete meaninglessness gets lampshaded.
      • Another common mangled saying is "the worm is on the other boot", a mash-up of "the worm has turned" and "the boot is on the other foot".
    • The tendency of Honest Johns in UK media to call everyone "squire" (CMOT Dibbler does this) gets extended to other Discworld cultures, with a camel merchant who calls Teppic "emir" in Pyramids, and Disembowel-Meself-Honorably calling Rincewind "shogun" in Interesting Times.
    • Klatch's role as the "generically foreign" country to Morporkians means we get "Excuse my Klatchian " and "That isn't Klatchian  mist, lad" (both by Ridcully in Soul Music).
    • A few aversions are lampshaded early on, when he notes that the use of the phrase "gypsies" is anomalous, given that there is no such thing as Egypt, but some words of place-name origin need to be kept for coherency's sake, so he's not calling them Djelibabies, as technically appropriate as that would be.
    • "This is a hell of a way to spend Hogswatch! " (Hogfather)
    • "Now we're cooking with charcoal! " (Interesting Times and others)
    • Trolls refer to "legends from the sunset  of time." Either because they're nocturnal (according to The Light Fantastic), or because they think we go through time backwards (according to Thud!, based on a line in Reaper Man).
    • "Evil Emperor. Evil Empire. It did what it said on the iron maiden .(Unseen Academicals)
    • "Couldn't expect to get away Feegle  free" (Snuff)
    • There's more than one way of choking a dangdang  than stuffing it with pling ." (Thief of Time) (dangdangs and pling, if you're wondering, are never mentioned in any other context.)
    • In a discussion on alt.fan.pratchett., Terry Pratchett said that building the clacks network was "not dragon wizardry ." (See The Last Hero for why they're the same thing.)
    • In Raising Steam a dwarf says the grags can "stick it where the sun shines too much ".
    • "It's gone wahoonie -shaped." (Various books)
  • The vampire culture in The Saga of Darren Shan: "In this night  and age"
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe books:
    • "Out of the reactor core  and into the supernova. "
    • Playing Sith's/Dark Side's  Advocate. Started in the X-Wing Series, but other novels picked it up later.
    • Better the Moff  you know than Emperor's new envoy. 
    • He was as green as the foam  on Lomiin-ale.
    • The Star Wars Holiday Special is largely cringed over and ignored, but a few things have worked their way into canon. Boba Fett, Chewbacca's family, and Life Day.
      Wedge: [after a very agreeable breakup, and having said that he hopes she'll still consider him a friend] "Meaning you can still call on me. Send me messages. Send me Life day  presents."
    • "These guys went through the estate's defenses easier than Rebels go through a Death Star ."
    • It's not the work of Venthan Chassu,  but it beats bare walls.
    • Less chance than a flame  on Hoth. 
    • If one person calls you a Hutt,  laugh it off. If two people call you a Hutt,  start to wonder. If three people call you a Hutt,  buy a drool bucket and start hoarding spice.  (Stackpole invents a lot of these.)
    • You look like something the poom  dragged in.
    • How many Corellians does it take to change a glowpanel? 
      • None. If the Light's out you can't see them cheating at Sabacc. 
    • Speaking of which, there's no such thing as a "poker face". Instead, you'd have a "Sabacc face".
    • She took to it like a sarlacc  to sand. 
      • That one is strange, since they do have ducks. And water. And because not all sarlaccs live in deserts.
    • If The Force is with us, it's definitely The Dark Side. 
    • This looks like a dew -run.
      • Also used: a "blue milk-run".
    • Stick the vibroblade  in and modulate the oscillation rate. 
    • The airspeeder dropped like a freefalling Hutt. 
      • The same character a few pages later said the same speeder "dropped like a rock", so "freefalling Hutt" was probably just for color.
    • As the smugglers say, we were putting all our spice  in one freighter .
    • Don't plot a course into that black hole .
    • I get the holo .
    • I'll walk away, shedding my crimes like a Trandoshan  sheds its skin.
      • In that case it was deliberate — a criminal offered to hand over some crucial info in exchange for immunity from prosecution, money, and a way off planet, and was amused when an old enemy was sent to pick him up. He knew she needed the info and was too honorable to go against the deal, so he used this phrase to remind her that he had let the Trandoshan who had murdered a friend walk free.
    • This really came out of the asteroid belt. 
      • Alternately, it came out of the black, as in deep space.
    • "Like a neutrino  through plasma. "
      • A similar but less arbitrary example from one of the Young Jedi Knights books: Lando says that a certain diamond drill can cut through durasteel just as easily as a laser can cut through Sullustan jam.
    • A particularly egregious one: What time is it when an Imperial AT-AT Walker  steps on your wrist chronometer?  Time to get a new wrist chronometer. 
    • Wedge Antilles is said to have ice water in his veins and cold-space lubricants for blood.
    • "And then ask yourself if that doesn't make you look a bit like a dewback's cloaca ."
    • "He's a few starships  short of a fleet. ."
    • Tending children is like herding Gammorean slime cats .
  • The Redwall books love these. Some examples include "the leaf  calling the grass green " and "I'll bet you an apple to an acorn" (the equivalent of "dollars to donuts").
    • "If wishes were fishes, there'd be no room in the river for water. " (Also many creative insults, the best being "If brains were bread you'd have starved to death before you were born!")
    • "There's more than one way of frying a frog. " Weird, you'd think Ferahgo would love to talk about skinning things...
  • From The Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross, we have "Never bring a tazer  to an artillery duel ", and the ReMastered philosophy "Upload  them all, the unborn god  will know its  own."
  • The Hollows has several, such as "You look like the vamp who drained the cat. "
  • Lots in the Star Trek Novel Verse:
    • Like a targ  out of gre'thor.  (Klingon)
    • "If life hands you ungaberries,  you've got to make detergent. " (Ferengi)
    • "Played me like a Syn Lara. " (Trill)
    • "The Bloodwing's  share", and "like h'vart  in an alley." (Both Romulan)
    • "The pin  that broke the zipthar’s wing .(Human colonists on Deneva)
    • "The sauce  on the slugsteak  (Ferengi)
    • "Nervous as a tiku in a kava reap" (Bajoran)
    • One that's almost the same: "Plenty of other Suckerfish in the River".
    • "If Ice Bores kill your Ailicorne, make Ailicorne steaks". (Andorian). There are also the Andorian axioms "Absence makes the heart forget" and "What goes around comes around...but with a sharper knife".
    • The Ferengi morality tale of "The Boy Who Cried Audit"
    • "Like Honge on fresh meat" (Cardassian). Also the Cardassian saying "the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy, but may prove useful".
    • "Sap and fog", for when Nasats are being dismissive.
    • "Screw with the Mugato, you're getting the horn".
    • "In a Tribble's eye!" (Which didn't need to be said, because McCoy uses the phrase "In a pig's eye!" in the original series).
  • Dragaera: In the book Issola, Lady Teldra makes a reference to Vlad engaging in "gray humor". This is the equivalent of what we would call "black humor"- the difference is that in the series, black is the color of magic and gray is the color of death.
    • They also have "how many X does it take to sharpen a sword?" instead of Light Bulb Jokes.
  • Warrior Cats does this quite a bit.
    • "When hedgehogs  fly!"
    • "Don't be a scaredy-mouse! "
    • "Don't get your whiskers  in a twist. "
    • "That's a load of fox-dung! "
    • "You're crow-food! "
    • "Cloudtail's mew  is worse than his scratch. "
    • "We shall kill two prey  with one blow,  as it were."
    • "Who made dirt  in his fresh-kill ?"
    • "You look as if you've lost a rabbit  and found a shrew ."
    • "No use wailing  over lost prey ."
  • A clever and appropriate use in Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers novel, "...on the bounce." Its meaning ranges from along the lines of 'don't waste time' to 'stay alert', depending on the context it's used in.
  • Rosalie hisses "Over my pile of ashes" in Breaking Dawn.
  • In Insurrection (War of the Spider Queen series) one drow said "putting the cart before the lizard".
  • In Safehold, "kill the wyvern  that fetched  the golden rabbit ."
    • Fridge Logic: But why would you kill the wyvern out of greed? Does it puke up the rabbit after fetching it? And they have chickens on Safehold, so why not geese? Why not just use another bird in place of the goose? Arrgh!
    • Also, "between the doomwhale  and the deep blue sea."
  • The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov: "built like a force-field latrine ." (If you're wondering about the practicality of a force-field latrine, note that that's the point of the original metaphor.)
  • The Automatic Detective loves this trope — among others, Mack, as narrator, once says that "Grey had me by the directives ", and use of "exhaust port" (as per the Transformers example) is a common stand-in for "ass" in all manner of expressions.
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole does this a few times. Most common is the use of "gizzard" in place of things like "know in my heart" or "bad feeling in my gut".
    • "Are you yoinks "?
    • "Racdrops" is a common swear, short for "raccoon droppings".
    • "Glaux" is used in place of "God" ie "Great Glaux!".
  • H. Beam Piper: one book replaced "hot knife" and "butter" with "fast neutrons" and "toilet paper".
  • In the Honor Harrington novels, characters from planets other than Earth (most of the cast), typically substitute native fauna into their metaphors, such as "We've got the hexapumanote  by the tail" or "If you had the sense God gave a near-turkey". A few technological metaphors show up - "adding hydrogennote  to the fire".
  • The Ciaphas Cain series is fond of the phrase "going ploin-shaped ."
  • The Race in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series do this a lot. Examples:
    • "On the other fork of the tongue ".
    • "Getting under his scales ".
    • "Keep an eye-turret  on him".
    • "You must be egg-addled !".
    • "You are yanking my tail-stump ."
    • They also constantly swear "by the spirits of Emperors past" (cast down eye-turrets).

    Live-Action TV 
  • Charles Dickens in Doctor Who: "What the Shakespeare? "
    • Oddly enough, the phrase "what the dickens" actually appears in Shakespeare's writing and has nothing to do with the author Dickens at all ("the dickens" = "the Devil"), but it would be even odder for Charles Dickens to say "what the dickens".
    • Then topped two seasons later when Shakespeare says "What the Chaucer?"
      • In "The Name of the Doctor", after the Doctor is conned by Clara's young charges, he mutters, "Why those little...Daleks !"
  • Star Trek: Voyager has "I didn't want to be a third nacelle. " (Ships in Star Trek almost always have an even number of warp nacelles, usually 2)
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time" has one whose mundane equivalent isn't very common: "He's as tight-lipped as an Aldeberan Shellmouth ."
  • On Star Trek: Enterprise, Phlox referred to Archer's Freudian slips as "Pillarian slips".
  • Babylon 5 manages to combine this with Yiddish as a Second Language when Ivanova says to Sheridan, "What am I, chopped flarn ?" ("Lines of Communication")
  • In The Suite Life on Deck: "Well I guess we're both up the Ganges  without a paddle!
  • Firefly has "Do I look like a complete backbirth?" as well as a few others.
  • Battlestar Galactica - "frack"

    Tabletop Games 

    Theater 
  • Wicked: "Wait one clock-tick ."

    Video Games 
  • The Discworld game:
    Sleazy Guy: Care to buy an hourglass? 
    Rincewind: Where'd you get those?
    Sleazy Guy: Fell off the back of a donkey cart,  sir!
  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: Is Linebeck shaking over there?! He's such a cucco !
    • One of the CDi games has "I'm so hungry, I could eat an octorok "
  • Wakka instructs Tidus over the course of Final Fantasy X to hold his chocobos. The Chocoboy of Final Fantasy VIII instructed Squall to do the same. There's also Wakka's "son of a Shoopuf!" and another character's "...my shoopuf!"
    • In Nautilus in Final Fantasy XIII, there's a boy who asks his parent to give him a "chocoback ride."
  • Mass Effect 2 features an advertisement for a movie about "Blasto, the first hanar Spectre", whose trademark phrases are "This one has no time for your solid waste excretions" and "Enkindle THIS!"
    • Mass Effect 3 features many excerpts from the movie, the humor of which often stems from this trope.
    • When you first meet Legion, Tali mentions that a single geth would have no more intelligence than a wild varren. It makes more sense since varren are basically Space Dogs, and 99% of the characters, humans included, probably never saw a real life dog before.
    • Quarians in general use the term "Keelah" in place of "God" note , and "Keelah se'lai" is said at the end of certain discussions, including the hearing in front of the admiralty board. Replace it with "God be with you", and it's a perfect fit.
      • Mass Effect 3 reveals it to effectively mean "The homeworld which I shall one day see.", which is similar, given how mythical their homeworld is to the Quarians by this point.
    • Inverted early on, at one point Vega brings up a more traditional "shooting fish in a barrel", which is a completely alien concept to Garrus.
  • Dwarven curses in the Dragon Age setting include "Go take a long breath out of a short shaft," which from context and phrasing probably means "Go die in a hole."
    • It might be a modification of "go take a long walk off a short pier", basically, "shut up" or "go f*ck yourself".
    • The above saying most likely refers to the breathing of lyrium dust in the mines. Lyrium is basically the setting's magical macguffin, but it is very toxic to mortal beings. Breathing lyrium dust can, even in the best of circumstances, reduce you to a gibbering idiot, at worst, well...you don't want to know.
    • They also use "Nug-humping" where a modern person would probably use "Motherfucking."
    • In addition, there's the phrase "by the maker", as well as a few references to Andraste throughout both games.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network series has quite a few of these, primarily in the first three games, where the translators were using Woolseyisms:
    • "I was programmed  ready!"
    • "You scared me half to deletion! "
    • "Prepare to meet your programmer! "
  • All over the place in Homeworld: Cataclysm. Some are reasonable, some are quite grating.
    Kuun-Lan Fleet Command(agitated): Join the Kiith !
  • Tales of Monkey Island has got LOADS of them, though a few examples are:
    • "Davey J. Nipperkin doesn't go handing over his secret sources to every Tom, Dick, and Guybrush  that washes ashore!"
    • "Anyone up for a quick game of Five Card Draw-and-Quarter?  Follow the Monkey?  Męlée  Hold 'Em?"
    • "The Club has a strict 'No Feet,  No Service' clause."
    • "Talk to the hand, sicko, 'cause the pirate  ain't listenin'!"
    • "Accidentally, my dorsal fin! "
    • "Does someone have a cannon  to your head?"
    • "...but that guy is cannon -happy!"
    • "Just my two pieces of eight,  sir."
    • "Blowholes  to Betsy, could it be?"
    • "Hold onto your pantalones! "
    • "Your honor, pirates and wenches  of the gallery... "
    • "...he seemed to think I could make a pretty piece of eight  off of your untimely execution..."
    • "Time is grog,  Captain."
    • "Malevolence  is in the eye of the beholder, Guybrush Threepwood."
    • "Tore through here like a cat  outta hell, off into the jungle."
    • "Mo' money, mo ability to solve puzzles. "
    • "That witch is nothing but trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with V,  and that stands for Voodoo. "
  • Hatoful Boyfriend has repeated uses of "everybirdie ".
  • In Star Wars: The Old Republic, a Hutt remarks, "You say keelpunah , I say keepunah ."
  • When playing SimAnt, if the "Funny" captions are turned on, ants will often share gems such as "I've worked my mandibles to the chitin ."
  • In Xenoblade, you'll occasionally get phrases like "What on Bionis ?"
  • After the CPU Breaker is defeated in Neptunia mk2, Ram exclaims that she's "so hungry she could eat a horsebird."
  • Used by specific characters rather than the world at large, but the third season of Sam & Max: Freelance Police has a few.
    Papierwaite: And why should I give a hellbeast's hangnail  what happens to your partner?
    Papierwaite: I couldn't give three figs !
    • And a Dummied Out line has Skun-K'ape saying "You're swinging on frayed vines , magician".
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: "What in OBLIVION  is that?!"
    • Speaking of said Oblivion, the Adoring Fan: "By Azura! By Azura! By Azura! "
  • In Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2, one voice choice for male player characters has the following "swear" emote: "You two-faced son of a kobold !"
  • Space Quest:
    • The Have a Nice Death message for stepping onto the surface of Ortega in Space Quest III without protective clothing and melting is: "It's so hot you could fry a Vorlian phlegmsnake egg."
    • "It's not over 'till the fat lady Orat spits" is a Have a Nice Death message from Space Quest IV.

    Web Comics 
  • Footloose: "You've got about as much chance as Hinckley had with Foster "
  • The webcomic Skin Deep has at least one: "What's got your feathers in a turn? " (oddly enough, said to someone who doesn't have feathers.)
  • Vexxarr gives us this version. BellSouth has the Bleen Empire by the Golgi Apparatus.
  • "I'm such a plague-head!" from My Milk Toof.
  • Digger
    • "Hold your moles,  I'm coming."
    • "Never laid eyestalks on one before."
    • "I don't give a gnawed shoot. "
    • "Don't salt  the messenger."
    • " I'll make him regret the day he slid out of his mother's pouch. 
  • Our Little Adventure has a few:
    • "For the love of the gods" replacing "For the love of God"
    • "For Stellina's sake!" replacing "For Christ's sake!"
    • "What in the three hells" replacing "What the hell"
    • "What on Manjulias" replacing "What on Earth" (at least when the creator remembers to change it.)
  • Homestuck plays this for laughs with the trolls, as part of the Expospeak Gag that is their biology and culture:
    • "You can glub to the content of your collapsing and expanding bladder based aquatic vascular system ."
    • Karkat explaining a troll romance novel "THEIR DYNAMIC IS THE GRUBLOAF AND TUBER PASTE  OF THE OVERALL ARC."
    • "I made my recupracoon  and now I have to wriggle around in its slime ."
  • The Order of the Stick has a fiend exclaiming "What the Home Sweet Home  is going on?"
  • Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic came up with several variants of the old ones:
  • The godlike AI in Schlock Mercenary has a rather twisted sense of humor (this one seems to spread in the fandom):
    Schlock: ...How did Petey get a gestalt  off of a battleplate?
    Kevyn: I didn't ask, and all he said was "in for a penny, in for plutonium".
  • Girl Genius has a few, based on steam power and clockwork, such as "Get wound !" and "runing around like headless constructs ".
  • Starslip Crisis parodies this hard, sometimes by adding needless adjectives to a phrase and sometimes by just putting "space-" in front of a word. (As in "Oh, space-hell!")
    Cutter: Today I kill two Salaxian birds with one Hethomorian laser-stone.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Chika explains to Amanda what might be the reason Amanda doesn't remember answering a particular Q&A question previously.
    Chika: You were pretty shrunk  at the time, but...
  • In "A Brief Moment of Culture", Jeffrey Channing Wells's Very Long Narbonic fanfic, Artie the superintelligent gerbil reflects "Mell was playing in my dust bath  now".
  • Gaia:
  • Webcomic/Housepets!
    "King": Son of a charming young woman !

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In the The Little Mermaid animated series, disobedient children get beached .
    • Also:
    Triton: What under the sea  is going on?!
  • The Jetsons: "That's the way the satellite spins. "
    • "Jumping Jupiter! "
  • The Flintstones: "That's the way the boulder bounces. "
    • "Just a rock  pickin' minute.
  • Pac-Man, the Animated Series: "Over my chomped  body!''
  • The Super Mario Bros. Super Show: "That's the way the meatball bounces. "
  • Futurama has "You sound like a broken MP3. "
  • Transformers does this a lot, replacing certain lines in stock phrases with robotic related terms, especially when talking about body-parts. It also uses this technique for Getting Crap Past the Radar.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: "Get your muzzle  out of those books."
    • "You little foal! "
    • "What the hay? "
      • This one's a borderline example because it's also a commonly used substitute in Real Life.
    • "Every/Any/Some/Nopony " on many occasions.
    • "Old pony's/mare's  tale."
    • "Goody four -shoes."
    • "Well, well, well, it seems we have some neeeigh-sayers  in the audience!"
    • "It's time to pony  up and confront Zecora!"
      • Somewhat hilariously, "pony up" is genuine slang for "pay up," which changes the line's meaning a bit.
    • "Fillies and gentlecolts ."
    • "Nopony else gives a flying feather !"
    • "Who in the hoof  is that?"
    • The UK trailers have "lend a helping hoof ".
    • "You... get down here... this instant... young... colt! "
    • The fandom also tends to use "flank" or "Rump" in place of "ass" or "butt", like "flank-hurt", "dat flank", or "badflank".
      • "Buck" is also commonly used instead of the similar sounding four-letter word, though at least one comic has noted the problems with that.
    • Well, Whallop my Withers.
    • Wings , don't fail me now!
    • What in Equestria  is going on in here?
    • "Gabby Gums is my bread and butter, and I'm not gonna let you goody-two-horseshoes  take that away from me!"
    • "You're bucking  a dead... tree ".
      • Literally.
    • "Hold on to your hooves !"
  • Maryoku Yummy: "Yum's  the word."
  • Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers: Upon having to fight their way out of a Earth-government facility, running from the Space Navy, and learning they're headed for Tortuna. "Out of the blast furnace,  and into the converter! "
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "The Algae  Always Greener": "A rolling stone gathers no Algae! "
    • What was first? The oyster  or the pearl ?
  • A number of phrases on Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends (which focuses on the adventures of sentient insects and other bugs), but most particularly "hold your horseflies!"
  • The main character in Widget The World Watcher likes to replace words of common sayings by something space-based.
  • The Buzz on Maggie: Oh, bug .
  • Adventure Time: "Oh, my Grod/Glob/Gob !"
    • "What the math ?"
  • South Park has these in the "Go God Go" episodes, in the atheistic future, things like "Oh my science !" and "What in science's  name?".
  • ReBoot used computer jargon to get crap past the radar:
    • "Me and good old Frisket just kicked Megabyte's bitmap !"
    • "If you ask me, they're just covering their ASCIIs ."
  • Monsuno uses "Aw, crag ." several times. At one point Chase refers to someone as "A pain in my Core ."
  • Pound Puppies (2010) uses this a few times.
    • "Rebound" gives us Squirt's line "You scratch my belly , I scratch yours."
    • In "McLeish Unleashed", Lucky's reaction to the changes Milton Feltwattle makes to Shelter 17 is "Oh my Dog , he is serious!"
  • Both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra have multiple references to the Mix-and-Match Critters that inhabit their world that match this trope perfectly.
    • "He's not a one-trick poodle-pony."
    • "That weasel-snake!"
    • Aang is such a pacifist, he even helps "the spider-fly stuck in its own web."
    • At one point in Korra, Mako advises his brother Bolin to handle a breakup quickly, "like pulling off a leech ." While this was a bit of Self-Deprecation about how Mako didn't do just that in his own breakup last season, it wound up being a poor choice of words on the creators' part as they had to reassure viewers that Mako was not in fact calling his ex-girlfriend a leech.
  • 3-2-1 Penguins!:
    • "For the love of herring ! Would someone please turn that off that infernal noise!"

    Real Life 
  • There was a story in Reader's Digest about a student of medieval history who explained she was far too busy to do something by saying "I've just got too much on my trencher ."
  • Some foreign proverbs translated into your language (which have an equivalent) can look like this. For instance, the English proverb "The grass is always greener on the other side" becomes "The cherries in your neighbor's garden are always sweeter" in German. (Die Kirschen in Nachbars Garten schmecken immer süßer.)

    Other 
  • People will jokingly ask "What do atheists say during sex?" or what phrases they use to replace "Oh my God." and "Jesus Christ" and the answer is, in the joke at least, something like "Oh my science." or something to that effect.


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