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empty promise

A promise that is devoid of worth or meaning, one that cannot or was never intended to be carried out. John may be a sweet-talker, but in reality, he's a lowlife full of empty promises.
See also: empty, promise

a promise is a promise

A phrase emphasizing that a promise should be kept. I know you feel differently now, but you said you would help me, and a promise is a promise!
See also: promise

a promise made is a promise kept

When one makes a promise, it should be done with the intention of following through. I said I would help you, and I will—because, as far as I'm concerned, a promise made is a promise kept.
See also: kept, made, promise

breach of promise

A violation of a promise one has made. You told me you would study for this test, and then you got an F. That sounds like a breach of promise to me!
See also: breach, of, promise

go back on one's word

 and go back on one's promise; go back on one's pledge
to break a promise that one has made. I hate to go back on my word, but I won't pay you $100 afterall. Going back on your promise makes you a liar.
See also: back, on, word

I promise you!

Inf. I am telling you the truth! (Compare this with Trust me!) John: Things will work out, I promise you! Jane: Okay, but when? Sue: I'll be there exactly when I said. Bob: Are you sure? Sue: I promise you, I am telling the truth!
See also: promise

keep a promise

 and keep one's promise
to make good on a promise; to fulfill one's promise. If you can't keep your promises, you shouldn't make them in the first place.
See also: keep, promise

*lick and a promise

Fig. a hasty bit of work; a quick once-over. (*Typically: finish something with ~; give something ~.) I was pressed for time, so I just gave the housework a lick and a promise. Mary spent so much time on her history paper that she had to finish her math homework with a lick and a promise.
See also: and, lick, promise

*lot of promise

much promise for the future. (*Typically: have ~; show ~.) Sally is quite young, but she has a lot of promise. This bush is small, but it shows a lot of promise.
See also: lot, of, promise

promise something to someone

to pledge something to someone. I promised this vase to my niece. Is this book promised to anyone?
See also: promise

promise the moon (to someone)

 and promise someone the moon
to make extravagant promises to someone. Bill will promise you the moon, but he won't live up to his promises. My boss promised the moon, but never gave me a raise.
See also: moon, promise

Promises are like piecrust, made to be broken.

Prov. It is useless to make promises, because people always break their promises. Lisa made Andrew promise not to drink anymore, but promises are like piecrust, made to be broken.
See also: broken, like, made, Promise

hold promise

to be likely to succeed The new drug holds promise for helping to control addiction.
See also: hold, promise

promises, promises

you will probably not do what you say you will do “When I get my check I'll buy you a new coat.” “Promises, promises!”
See also: promise

give something a lick and a promise

1. (British & Australian old-fashioned) to clean something quickly and not carefully I put on my new suit, gave my shoes a lick and a promise, and left the house.
2. (American & Australian old-fashioned) to do a job or piece of work quickly and not carefully We didn't have time to do much clearing up in the yard - just gave the grass a lick and a promise.
See also: and, give, lick, promise

promise (somebody) the moon

  (British, American & Australian) also promise (somebody) the earth (British & Australian)
to promise something impossible He had promised her the earth but five years later they were still living in the same small house.
See also: moon, promise

the promised land

a place that offers a lot of good opportunities
Usage notes: This phrase comes from the Bible.
America was the promised land for many immigrant families.
See also: land, promise

Promises, promises!

something that you say when someone says they will do something and you do not believe them 'Honestly, I will call you back this time.' 'Promises, promises!'

lick and a promise, a

A superficial effort made without care or enthusiasm. For example, I haven't time to do a good job of vacuuming, just enough for a lick and a promise. This expression is believed to allude to the quick lick a cat or other animal might give itself and a promise to do more or better at some future time. [Mid-1800s]
See also: and, lick

a lick and a promise

n. a very casual treatment. A lick and a promise isn’t enough. Take some time and do it right.
See also: and, lick, promise

lick and a promise

A superficial effort made without care or enthusiasm.
See also: and, lick, promise

lick and a promise

A superficial effort. Rather than wash themselves thoroughly to their parents' satisfaction, youngsters who were in a rush would splash on a little water and say they'd do a better job later. The phrase was extended to apply to any fast and incomplete job.
See also: and, lick, promise
References in classic literature ?
She made me promise I wouldn't tell a soul," said John hoarsely.
There, my hearties (you like sea slang, so I'll give you a bit) now, I want you to promise not to read any more stuff for a month, and I'll agree to supply you with wholesome fare.
I cannot promise to be an Agassiz or a Sumner, mother; but I do promise to be an honest man, please God.
and holding fast the hand he gave her, she sealed his promise with a kiss that had all a mother's hope and faith in it.
I thank you, most sincerely, Major," I said "You have convinced me that I must not ask you to forget, on my account, the promise which you have given to my husband.
I was going to say," I rejoined, "that your promise only pledges you not to tell the secret which my husband is keeping from me.
if I saw you, at this moment, on the point of finding out for yourself what Eustace persists in hiding from you, I should remember that my promise, like all other promises, has its limits and reserves.
Thus far," he said, "I have rigidly respected the promise which I made to your husband.
With the promise of merciless vengeance written in the Devil s writing on his Devil-possessed face, he kept his eyes fixed on the hated woman whom he had ruined--on the hated woman who was fastened to him as his wife.
On the faith of the written promise of marriage exchanged between you in Scotland," he said, "you claim Mr.
It is my distressing duty," said Sir Patrick, "to declare, in this lady's name, and on the faith of written promises of marriage exchanged between the parties, then residing in Scotland, that she claims to be now--and to have been on the afternoon of the fourteenth of August last--Mr.
I promise to go to school every day, to study, and to succeed--"
I promise you, Father, that I'll learn a trade, and I'll be the comfort and staff of your old age.
Forgive me, therefore, a little innocent raillery; but I promise you I will never mention his name any more.
Stoian adds, "The principle is simple: Users make a promise and others are the judge, but in a good way.