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Catch Phrase / Literature

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Books have catch phrases too, and you can get that in writing.


  • A Christmas Carol: Averted; a case of Beam Me Up, Scotty! and Memetic Mutation has resulted in "bah, humbug!" becoming the Catchphrase of Ebenezer Scrooge. "Bah, humbug" is only spoken twice in the novel, though "humbug" comes up a few more times by itself. At that time, "humbug" meant "hoax" or "jest", so Scrooge was just dismissing Christmas as a fraud in the lingo of the day.
  • Animorphs:
    • Everyone, in narration: "My name is [name.]"
    • Rachel: "Let's do it."
    • Marco: "This is insane."/"Are you insane?!"
      • In one instance, Rachel and Marco switched catchphrases, after Rachel goes over their plan:
        Marco: "That's it exactly."
        Rachel: "Yeah, this is insane."
        Marco: "I know, right? Let's do it!"
    • "That was exciting/fun/really cool." "Let's never, ever do it again."
    • Ax: "We have x of your minutes left."
      • Marco: "They're everyone's minutes!"
    • The Running Gag:
      Ax: "Yes, Prince Jake."
      Jake: "Don't call me prince."
      Ax: "Yes, Prince Jake."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    Daenerys: It is true that I am only a young girl, and do not know the ways of war...
    Ygritte: You know nothing, Jon Snow.
    Ned Stark: Winter is coming.
    Arya Stark: Fear cuts deeper than swords.
    The Lannister: A Lannister always pays his/her debts.
    Ser Boros Blount: You speak to me thus? You?
    Shagga, son of Dolf: I will chop off your manhood and feed it to the goats.
    Hodor: Hodor.
    Patchface: I know, I know, oh oh.
    Reek: You have to know your name.
    The Dothraki in general, Irri and Jhiqui in particular: It is known.
    The Braavosi in general, Syrio Forel in particular: Just so.
    Jaime Lannister (internal dialogue) She's been fucking Lancel, Osmund Kettleback and Moon Boy for all I know...
    Asha Greyjoy: (hefts her axe) "This is my husband—" (draws her dagger) "—and this is my suckling babe!"
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  • In The Balanced Sword, the small but deceptively dangerous Poplock several times announces his presence and joins in a fight with a cry of "Fear me!"
  • Herman Melville's "Bartleby, the Scrivener" practically never says anything other than "I would prefer not to."
  • Garion's catchphrase in David Eddings's The Belgariad, which the other characters quickly become tired of, is "Why me?" Eventually answered as "Would you have trusted anyone else to do it?", but not before various other characters have taken it up briefly. In one scene Belgarath (who's the mentor, and usually the one being asked and not answering), says it, much to everyone's amusement.
    • Silk's is "Trust Me" (which you actually shouldn't) and Errand receives his name because for a while "Errand" is the only word he can say.
  • In The Bible:
    • Anytime an angel shows up, it's almost guaranteed that the phrase "Fear not" will appear.
    • Jesus would often preface important statements with "I tell you the truth:..." (Alternately translated/phrased as "Verily I say unto you:..." or "Truly I tell you:...")
  • TRA-LA-LA!
  • In Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain,
    • Gurgi mentioned "munchings and crunchings" often enough for them to count as a catchphrase; also his 'Poor Tender Head'.
    • Fflewdur Fflam used "Great Belin!" as his trademark Unusual Euphemism (Belin is an ancient Welsh sun god),
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    • Princess Eilonwy would often cry "Taran of Caer Dallben, I'm not speaking to you!" or some variation of the same. She also has a habit of talking in similes and metaphors. For example, "It's silly to worry because you can't do something you simply can't do. That's worse than trying to make yourself taller by standing on your head," or "I don't like being called 'a girl' and 'this girl' as if I didn't have a name at all. It's like having your head put in a sack."
  • Ciaphas Cain: "If I had known (X) was going to happen, I would have shot (Y) myself."
  • Lieutenant Villain Dance has a strong tendency to think or say, "Never happen!", as in "it will never", when he considers failing in his duty or being shot down.
  • Dinotopia: "Breath deep, seek peace" or the Skybax riders' variant. "Breath deep, fly high, seek peace" or simply "Fly high, seek peace".
  • A handful of Discworld characters have catchphrases:
    • Rincewind: "OhshitohshitohshitI'mgoingtodie!"
      • Bonus points because this one was also uttered, on request, in "Wizard Language".
    • Granny Weatherwax: "If you ain't got respect, you ain't got a thing," "I can't be havin' with this," "Blessings be upon this house", and of course written, rather than spoken: I ATEN'T DEAD.
    • Death: There's no justice. There's just me. Which in Mort became There's no justice. There's just us.
    • Dibbler's "That's cutting me own throat", along with the variants used by his counterparts.
    • Vimes inverts this by asking "What's the thing I'm always saying?".
    • Captain Carrot: "As Mister Vimes Says... "
    • Lord Vetinari: "Don't let me detain you..."
    • Lampshaded with Moist von Lipwig:
      "Trust me."
      "You use that phrase an awful lot, Mr. Lipwig."
    • Foul Ole Ron's "Millenium Hand and Shrimp."
    • Sergeant Jackrum has "Upon my oath, I am not an X man", where "X" is something he's currently being (violent, dishonest, etc.), and "You are my little lads, and I will look after you."
  • There are a few in the web-novel Domina, which cross over into Hold Your Hippogriffs.
    • Derek and Laura swear "silver and gold."
      • In chapter 29, Laura's father swears "silver moon and golden sun," which might be the source of the above phrase.
    • Akane uses "Musashi's ___", such as "Musashi's sword" and "Musashi's gravestone." Almost certainly a reference to Miyamoto Musashi.
    • Ling uses "Tezuka" in place of God, lending new meaning to Creator Worship.
    • Seena and Simon swear "nine hells."
    • Kelly swears "blood and shadow."
    • Butler and Necessarius in general have "Because it was necessary."
  • Dragaera: "Shut up, Loiosh."
  • The Dresden Files has Harry's "Hell's bells!" and "Stars and stones!"
    • As well as Thomas Raith's "Empty night!"
      • Furthermore, Word of God has said that those three phrases will also be the titles of the Apocalyptic Trilogy that ends the series. In Butcher's own words, "there's a reason those are curses."
  • In the Elemental Masters series, whenever anyone comments on the fact that Neville the raven and/or Grey the parrot can talk, their response is always, "I can talk. Can you fly?"
  • Anastasia from Fifty Shades of Grey has "Oh, my".
  • In The First Law there's "Say one thing for Logen Ninefingers, say he's X" and Glokta asking himself "Why do I do this?"
  • In Forbidden Book Arashi has say your prayers!
  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Beltayn, Gaunt's adjunctant and vox officer, says "Something's awry" to report any kind of problem. Up to and including imminent disaster that could kill them all — a fact Lamp Shaded in the books.
    • Abnett also uses this with Aemos in Eisenhorn whose favourite phrase is 'Most perturbatory'. It's even his last words.
  • Scarlett O'Hara of Gone with the Wind fame has "Fiddle-dee-dee!", "Great balls of fire!" and (in the book) "God's nightgown!"
  • The Harry Potter series has Hermione's catchphrase "I read about it in Hogwarts: A History."
    • Harry's trademarked "Expelliarmus!" could also count (but also doubles as a Signature Move)
    • Mad-Eye Moody: "Constant Vigilance!"
    • Slughorn: "Merlin's beard!" Especially in the movie.
    • "Bloody hell!" is Ron's catchphrase in the films, but is a Beam Me Up, Scotty! as far as the books go.
      • Ditto for "NYEEAAAHHHHH!!!" as Voldemort's Catchphrase.
  • Honor Harrington has the phrase 'Let's be about it', which she adopted from her first Captain, and which several of her subordinates have begun using.
  • In Horus Heresy, Numeon has taken to using "Vulkan Lives!" as part declaration of defiance, part prayer and part war cry after Istvaan V's butchery has his gene-sire disappear.
  • In the third book of The Hunger Games, Peeta often asks "Real or not real?" thanks to the Mind Rape he suffers at the hands of the Capitol. Haymitch also calls Katniss "sweetheart", mostly to annoy her.
  • Into the Darkness: King Swemmel of Unkerlant is inordinately fond of 'efficiency' in all things.
  • The Jeeves and Wooster stories have plenty:
    • Bertie is practically a catch phrase arsenal. "This is a bit thick!" "Rally round!" "Right-o!" "Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party", etc.
    • Jeeves has "Very good, sir" and "I endeavor to be of assistance."
    • Bingo Little: "We were at school together!" (As a way to get Bertie to cave in and help him yet again. It always works.)
  • Parodied with Hellfire from Kinda Super Gay, who likes to say, “I always find a way.” It’s cool until he starts using it in everyday situations, such as when he feels the need to finish a cup of bad coffee.
  • Gollum's "My prrrecious..." from The Lord of the Rings.
  • Karsa Orlong from the Malazan Book of the Fallen is fond of telling anyone watching him to "Witness!" — usually followed by something very badass or just plain insane.
  • In the M*A*S*H novels, Hawkeye has "Finest kind!" as a Catchphrase. This made it to the movie, and appeared in some of the earliest episodes of the TV series, but was eventually forgotten or abandoned. Hawkeye and Duke together share the Catchphrase "We're the Pros from Dover".
  • In the Mr. Lemoncello series of books, Mr. Lemoncello and his games have the catchphrase "Is it fun? Hello! It's a Lemoncello!"
  • In Clint McCullough's Nevada, the main character, Meade Slaughter, when surprised by something, says "I'll be damned" so much that after it's his only response three times in a row, his daughter in law lampshades it: "Meade, if that's your only input, I might as well be talking to the wall."
  • The Neverending Story: Argax is fond of inserting "in a manner of speaking" into his dialogue.
  • In the Odd Thomas series, the phrase "The dead don't talk. I don't know why." appears in every book, usually just after Odd has revealed his "gift".
  • A frequent comment of Mrs. Bird in Michael Bond's Paddington Bear series was "Bears always land on their feet."
  • The Reynard Cycle: "He/She/They had some skill," is Isengrim's. It usually refers to someone who he's just killed, and is meant as a genuine compliment.
    • Tiecelin (and his pets): "Doom."
  • Christopher Moore's Sacré Bleu features The Colorman, who excuses every manner of horrifying acts with the phrase "Accident. Couldn't be helped."
  • Pseudonymous Bosch's Secret Series (The Name of This Book is Secret and sequels) has Max-Ernest. How 'bout that?
  • 7th Son has:
    Kilroy 2.0: "Kilroy 2.0 is here. Kilroy 2.0 is everywhere."
  • Sherlock Holmes' Beam Me Up, Scotty! is: "Elementary, my dear Watson", a line never found in the novel series. Then there's "The game's afoot!" which is actually a Shakespeare quote that Holmes utters once in the original stories. He does, however, have at least one genuine catchphrase: "You know my methods. Apply them!" This phrase or variations on it are used maybe six or seven times in the canon, but it hardly ever shows up in adaptations. There is also the occasional phrase closer to the "Elementary" example: "It is simplicity itself!"
  • Kurt Vonnegut, as author/narrator of Slaughterhouse-Five, punctuates everything involving death with the phrase "So it goes."
  • Matteo of Someone Else's War has "Inshallah" and "God is good."
  • Song at Dawn: Emerganda is fond of the phrase 'Tort-n�avetz', i.e. "You are wrong." This is acknowledged in-universe.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • Rock: "Airsick lowlanders."
    • Pattern: "It is a pattern."
  • These Words Are True and Faithful:
    • Ernie: "I will not be spoken to like that."
    • Sam: "'Fraid so."
  • The Thinking Machine: Professor Van Dusen is fond of saying "Two plus two equals four, not sometimes but always" (or minor variations thereof). It's his way of saying logic always applies, no matter what the situation.
  • Rumo, a minor character in The 13 ½ Lives of Captain Bluebear, at one point tells the eponymous character that he's not good with words when trying (and failing) to explain a situation. When he becomes the main character in the following book, Rumo & His Miraculous Adventures, "I'm not good with words" has become his catchphrase, said whenever he's asked to explain or elaborate on something.
  • The Three Musketeers:
  • The eponymous character in John Brunner's The Traveller in Black: "I have many names, but a single nature"; "You may call me Mazda, or anything you please"; and "As you wish, so be it".
  • In Treasure Island, Long John Silver had quite a few, including "You may lay to that!" ("You may depend on that"), "By the Powers"/"By the living thunder", and "Shiver my timbers!"
  • Vorkosigan Saga:
    • Emperor Gregor Vorbarra has "Let's see what happens," used after making unconventional decisions.
    • Ivan Vorpatril often protests, "It's not my fault."
    • Miles Vorkosigan's motto is "Forward momentum."
      • Also, "If I can do it, you can do it." The scary part is how often that ends up being true.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • "Mouse dung!" as an exclamation of frustration.
    • Jayfeather often says to his patients, "You're fine when I say you are."
  • From Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time:
    • Mat: "It's time to roll the dice." Also, "Blood and bloody ashes!" and "I am not a bloody lord!" (This last leading to wonderful Irony when Mat finally marries Tuon and becomes the Prince of Ravens.
    • Perrin: "I'm just a blacksmith." (More Irony,as of Book 13, Perrin is officially recognized by the monarchy of Andor as the Lord of the Two Rivers.
    • Moirain & Siuan (and to a lesser extent, all Aes Sedai): "The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills"
    • Lan: ...
    • The Aiel get a few: "I have toh" and "Sleep well and wake" are the most common, though the "to spit in Sightblinder's eye" speech and "Wash the Spears" come up on occasion.
      • Also, anything to do with 'water and shade' or 'shade of my heart'.
    • Borderlanders: "Peace!"
    • Woolhead... EVERYBODY.
  • Wings of Fire: Queen Scarlet thinks catchphrases are "thrilling"!
    • Peril likes things that are "blazing".
  • Winnie-the-Pooh:
    • "Bother!"
    • Christopher Robin: "Silly old Bear!"
    • Various characters/the narrator, "A bear of very little brain".
  • Characters in Stephen King novels often have catchphrases shared between each other as in-jokes or references to past experience. For example:
    • Dreamcatcher: "SSDD", "No bounce no play".
    • It: "Beep-beep, Richie."
    • The short story "Riding the Bullet" had the slightly philosophical phrase "Fun is fun, and done is done."
    • In The Stand, Tom Culleen has "My laws!" and "M-O-O-N, that spells (any word)".
    • In The Dark Tower Roland's use of "Ka" to describe virtually any event beyond his control. Becomes a form of running gag between him & Eddie Dean in the later novels in the series.
      Eddie: Ka?
      Roland: Ka.
      Eddie: Ka-ka.
  • In Wonder (2012), Summer's is "cool beans".
  • In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Penny likes to swear by Nicola Tesla. Another mad scientist, The Expert, does this as well.
  • Gratuity Tucci, Kid Hero of The True Meaning of Smekday, frequently says "Pardon my language." It apparently remains her catch phrase throughout her life, eventually becoming her last words.
  • Tinker Bell from Peter Pan has a tendency to say to Peter, "You silly ass!" She does it so often that even Wendy, who doesn't understand Tink's fairy language, is able to recognize it.
  • Charles Dickens's novels tend to be full of catch phrases because they were originally published as serials, and with his penchant for Loads and Loads of Characters, catch phrases made a convenient way for readers to keep all the characters straight.
  • The Crimson Shadow: Oliver, after any of his confident pronouncements falls flat, will come out with "I could be wrong".
  • Joey Pigza Swallowed The Key: Joey's is "Can I get back to you on that?"

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