Six ‘dadisms’ I’ve learned from my old man

A greenfinch with a speech bubble saying "Hell's teeth!" superimposed. An example of one of the dadisms I now use.

I’m becoming more and more like my dad. Particularly in terms of the things I say. This isn’t a bad thing at all as he’s awesome, but it’s still strange when I catch myself using his words and phrases. Language and the etymology of words have always intrigued me, so here are six ‘dadisms’ I now use regularly.


My dad has been using this informal greeting for as long as I can remember. It’s thought to be a contraction of “What cheer be with you?” I don’t know how or why it suddenly entered my parlance a month or two ago, but ‘hiya’ and ‘alright?’ have been well and truly kicked to the kerb. And speaking of kicking…


For the unversed, this is a dialectic word for plimsolls. There’s a theory that it’s an acronym of Dunlop Athletic Plimsolls. I can see how this one has stumbled back into my vocabulary. I hadn’t seen the things for years but now I have two kids at school, we’re forever making sure they’re still in their PE bags and not the lost property.

Gently Bentley

I’m always having to say this to all three kids. Particularly Dylan and Xander who can get a little aggressive towards one another. I had always assumed it comes from the iconic cars. Apparently, though, it originates from a post-war radio show involving an Australian comedian called Dick Bentley.

You don’t look with your hands

I’m probably using this phrase more than any of the others here at the moment. Unsurprisingly, it’s almost always when we’re in shops and the kids want to take a closer look at something. Not exclusively though. I had to deploy it – along with copious amounts of hand sanitising gel – when Xander found a dead greenfinch recently. Nice!

Hell’s teeth

Dad probably used this expletive as a substitute for ‘bloody hell’ when we were kids. Only after I said the latter in front of his colleagues at the age of four, mind! I was interested to learn that this phrase originates from the north east. His dad was from Sunderland so he more than likely got it from him. Sadly, I never met my Grandad but it’s nice to think that I take after him as well. In fact, I think I uttered it when Xander presented the ex greenfinch.

I’ll just go and throw myself in the pond then

I think this must be one my dad came up with himself. Maybe it was partly inspired by a family-favourite poem Daddy Fell Into the Pond. It’s something he jokingly says when his offers of help are politely declined. It has always made me laugh so I think it’s fair to say that I’ve consciously adopted it.

Which dadisms – or, indeed, mumisms – do you catch yourself using?


  1. HonestK

    Haha!! I feel I do a few of these, I say ‘you use your eyes to look!’, as I touch everything in sight. Think my daughter might get that one from me…
    Recently just started the ‘what did I just say?!’…or ‘don’t come crying to me when…’

  2. Fran

    I’m a fan of Hell’s Teeth as an expression. One of my more northern friends uses it regularly. Makes no sense whatsoever but hey. I think I even used it for the title of a post once. The rest? Nah. You’re clearly mad.

  3. Nick Harrison

    Oh god so many. Mainly my Mum’s. Quite a lot of “go and suck lemons” or “go eat worms” when they’re being sulky.

    Sound quite harsh when you write them down actually.

  4. Judith

    Mine don’t translate really, as I grew up in Holland, but I do say A LOT of things my parents used to say to me. Very disturbing.

  5. Eddie

    I find myself sounding more and more like my old man these days too. Some of his dadisms I’ve picked up on and use regularly are bloody hells bells, she? Who’s she the cats mother and gigs for glasses.

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