bark(redirected from barks)
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all bark and no bite
Full of talk that is more threatening or impressive than that which one can or will actually do. He always threatens to call the police if I don't stay off his lawn, but he's all bark and no bite. John talks big about how much money he'll make someday, but he's all bark and no bite.
(one's) bark is worse than (one's) bite
One's actions will not be nearly as severe as one's words imply. Don't worry about John's threats. His bark is worse than his bite.
bark at the moon
To make appeals in vain. Good luck talking to the principal, but I think you'll just be barking at the moon—I doubt you'll get a better grade.
barking dogs seldom bite
People who make themselves appear threatening rarely do any harm. A: "I'm really scared to tell Mr. White that I haven't finished my project. You know how he yells." B: "Yeah, but barking dogs seldom bite. He'll get over it."
close as the bark to the tree
As connected as is possible. Often used to describe a particularly intimate relationship or friendship. Jenna and Elise are as close as the bark to the tree—I rarely see one without the other!
go between the bark and the tree
To be overly involved in someone's personal matters—often those of a married person or couple. You shouldn't spend so much time alone with Elaine—she is a married woman, and you're going between the bark and the tree! You know far too much about their relationship and have definitely gone between the bark and the tree now.
take the bark off
To whip or otherwise punish someone. The phrase initially referred to striking someone so hard as to cut the skin. Primarily heard in US. That boy didn't do any of his chores around this farm today and still went off with his friends. I'm going to take the bark off him once he gets home! If we had to get in trouble with a teacher, at least it's with Mr. Wright—he's nice and won't take the bark off us.
the dogs bark, but the caravan goes on
Dissenting views from the lower classes are often ignored in favor of progress. City Hall probably won't even notice our protest against tearing down that historical building. The dogs bark, but the caravan goes on.
tight as the bark on a tree
Extremely frugal. If you're going to lunch with Derek, be prepared to pay for your own meal—he's tight as the bark on a tree. My grandfather is as tight as the bark on a tree, so he's probably saved every dollar he ever made.
1. Literally, of a dog, to make a barking noise at something. The dog is barking at something outside—can you please calm him down?
2. To yell at or speak severely to another person. The science teacher barked at us for not doing our homework.
bark up the wrong tree
To attempt or pursue a futile course of action, often by making some kind of suggestion or request. If you think I'll help you cheat, you're definitely barking up the wrong tree! I barked up the wrong tree when I applied to such good colleges with my average grades.
a barking dog never bites
One who regularly makes angry or threatening statements rarely acts upon them. Mr. Stewart may yell a lot, but I doubt he'll do anything to you—a barking dog never bites.
be barking mad
To be crazy or insane. Although its origin is unknown, the phrase may refer to rabid dogs. It's freezing today, and you're not going to wear a coat? Are you barking mad? You're barking mad if you think that plan will work.
be barking up the wrong tree
To be attempting or pursuing a futile course of action, often by making some kind of suggestion or request. If you think I'll help you cheat, you're definitely barking up the wrong tree! I was barking up the wrong tree when I applied to such good colleges with my average grades.
has more bark than bite
Not as severe or worrisome as one expected. Don't worry about John's threats—he has more bark than bite.
why keep a dog and bark yourself
Why do something that someone else is paid to do? I don't know why she's vacuuming when her cleaning lady is coming over tomorrow. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?
bark at someone
Fig. to speak harshly to someone. Don't bark at me like that over such a trivial mistake! Ken barked at the children for being noisy.
bark at someone or something
Lit. [for a dog] to make a characteristic sharp sound at someone or something. (See also bark at someone.) The dog is barking at the traffic again. Their guard dog was barking at me.
bark something out at someoneand bark something at someone; bark something to someone; bark something out (to someone)
Fig. to say something harshly to someone. The sergeant barked the orders out at the recruits. He barked an order at his staff. The teacher barked a reprimand out to the class. He barked out the order clearly and loudly.
bark up the wrong tree
Fig. to make the wrong choice; to ask the wrong person; to follow the wrong course. (Alludes to a dog in pursuit of an animal, where the animal is in one tree and the dog is barking at another tree.) If you think I'm the guilty person, you're barking up the wrong tree. The hitters blamed the team's bad record on the pitchers, but they were barking up the wrong tree.
barking dog never bites
Prov. Someone who makes threats all the time seldom carries out the threats. Old Mrs. Smith keeps saying she'll call the police if we walk on her lawn, but don't worry. A barking dog never bites. My boss threatens to fire me at least once a week, but a barking dog never bites.
One's bark is worse than one's bite.
Prov. Someone makes a lot of harsh-sounding threats but never carries them out. Don't get upset at anything my father says. His bark is worse than his bite. Jill: Lisa says she's going to sue me for letting my dog dig up her rosebushes. John: Don't pay any attention. Her bark is worse than her bite.
Why keep a dog and bark yourself?
Prov. You should not do something you have hired someone else to do. Ellen: The cleaning lady washes my floors every Tuesday, but I always wash them over again. Jane: Don't be silly, Ellen. Why keep a dog and bark yourself?
bark is worse than one's bite, one's
A person seems more hostile or aggressive than is the case, as in Dad sounds very grouchy in the morning, but his bark's worse than his bite. This phrase was a proverb by the mid-1600s.
bark up the wrong tree
Waste one's efforts by pursuing the wrong thing or path, as in If you think I can come up with more money, you're barking up the wrong tree. This term comes from the nocturnal pursuit of raccoon-hunting with the aid of dogs. Occasionally a raccoon fools the dogs, which crowd around a tree, barking loudly, not realizing their quarry has taken a different route. [Early 1800s]
talk someone's arm off
Also, talk someone's ear or head or pants off ; talk a blue streak; talk until one is blue in the face; talk the bark off a tree or the hind leg off a donkey or horse . Talk so much as to exhaust the listener, as in Whenever I run into her she talks my arm off, or Louise was so excited that she talked a blue streak, or You can talk the bark off a tree but you still won't convince me. The first four expressions imply that one is so bored by a person's loquacity that one's arm (or ear or head or pants) fall off; they date from the first half of the 1900s (also see pants off). The term like a blue streak alone simply means "very quickly," but in this idiom, first recorded in 1914, it means "continuously." The obvious hyperboles implying talk that takes the bark off a tree, first recorded in 1831, or the hind leg off a horse, from 1808, are heard less often today. Also see under blue in the face.
your bark is worse than your bite
If someone's bark is worse than their bite, they seem to be much more severe or unfriendly than they really are. My bark is definitely worse than my bite. When people get to know me, they'll tell you I'm just a big softy really.
be barking up the wrong tree
If someone is barking up the wrong tree, they are following the wrong course of action because their beliefs about something are not correct. Scientists in Switzerland realised that most other researchers had been barking up the wrong tree. Nobby, we've been barking up the wrong tree! We should have been looking for something green! Note: This expression comes from raccoon hunting, which takes place at night. Dogs that are trained to show where raccoons are hiding by barking sometimes indicate the wrong tree.
barking spiderand trumpet spider
n. the imaginary source of the sound of an audible release of intestinal gas. (With reference to the image of a anus.) Heidi, do you know anything about the trumpet spider I keep hearing? Although Dr. Waddlington-Stowe had never heard “barking spider” with reference to the affected part, he caught the connection immediately.
bark up the wrong tree
To misdirect one's energies or attention.
A barking dog never bites
Making threats but not carrying them out. The idea that a dog that vocalizes disapproval will not attack is more poetry than truth, as an examination of any hospital emergency room records will show. This anecdote is relevant: a candidate for local political office went from door to door to solicit votes. Ringing a doorbell, he was greeted by a woman restraining a large dog that was barking loudly. When the candidate hesitated, his assistant encouraged him to stay, saying, “Don't you know the proverb ‘a barking dog never bites'?” “Yes,” said the candidate, “I know the proverb, and you know the proverb, but does the dog know the proverb?” (Barking dogs figure in another phrase: “My dogs are barking” means that my feet hurt.)
Why keep a dog and bark yourself
Don't do a chore that should be done by someone you hired to do it. A literal example of the expression would be a home owner who buys, trains, and maintains a guard dog, but stays up all night in case of intruders. Jonathan Swift in Polite Conversation wrote this exchange between a woman of quality and her servant: “‘Good Miss, stir the Fire.' ‘Indeed your Ladyship could have stirr'd it much better.' [To which the woman replied] ‘I won't keep a Dog and bark myself.'”