promise

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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

give (something) a lick and a promise

1. To clean something hurriedly and carelessly. Just give those shelves a lick and a promise because grandma will be here any minute!
2. To do something else in the same rushed manner. I told the interns to just give that mailing a lick and a promise because we were supposed to get it out weeks ago.
See also: and, give, lick, promise

hold promise

To have potential or be likely to achieve success. Our new recruit holds promise. I hope he can deliver during the season. Everyone thought the prototype held promise, but it didn't hold up during the testing phase.
See also: hold, promise

Promises, promises!

A sarcastic reply to a promise or assurance that one does not believe. A: "I swear, as soon as I have a bit more free time, we will go on a proper date together." B: "Promises, promises! I won't hold my breath."

the promised land

A place, destination, or goal eagerly sought under the belief that it will bring success, happiness, or fulfilment. The phrase comes from the Biblical description of Canaan, the land promised to the Israelites. Primarily heard in US. You gotta move out West, dude. It's the promised land out here. We close this deal and we reach the promised land, partner.
See also: land, promise

promise (one) the moon

To promise someone something that cannot be done. Your clients will come to distrust you if you keep promising them the moon.
See also: moon, promise

make good on (something)

To fulfill an obligation, such as keeping a promise or paying a debt. You better make good on all the things you said you would deliver, or the client is not going to be happy. Trust me, I always make good on my debts, OK?
See also: good, make, on

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

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

promise the earth

If someone promises the earth, they promise to give people things that they cannot in fact possibly give them. `Politicians have lost credibility,' he complained, `they promise the earth and don't deliver.'
See also: earth, promise

a lick and a promise

INFORMAL
If you give something a lick and a promise, you clean it very quickly and not very well, but intend to do it more thoroughly later. There was only time in the morning for a lick and a promise. I just gave the kitchen floor a lick and a promise. Note: This expression is sometimes used for other tasks that are done quickly. Whatever they do now, if it's kind of a lick and a promise, then it's putting off the day they're going to have to deal with it.
See also: and, lick, promise

promise the moon

If someone promises the moon, they promise to do or give things that they cannot in fact give. Politicians promise the moon at election time, but do they deliver once they're elected?
See also: moon, promise

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 ?
These churches were symbolized in the Scriptures as candlesticks, and on certain conditions there was a sort of implied promise that Smyrna should be endowed with a "crown of life.
MONSIEUR COLBERT, - We have a promise to fulfil with M.
He refused to listen to me, as he had refused to listen to his mother; and he held me at the same time to my promise to keep his secret.
A man who has betrayed a woman under a promise of marriage is forced by that law (in the interests of public morality) to acknowledge her as his wife.
That is an undertaking which I have not asked of you and a promise which I refuse to make you
Scarcely eight moons had passed when, just as he had said, the wife went forth, and followed her husband; but before leaving her children she bade the two elder ones think of their promise never to forsake the younger, for he was a child, and weak.
When therefore the son had been proclaimed king, and the time of mourning was over, he was forced to keep the promise which he had given his father, and caused the king's daughter to be asked in marriage, and she was promised to him.
But a faithful promise -- the fidelity of promising
Yes; it could do no good; and, at any rate, unless you promise I remain where I am.
I promise nothing--I shall make codicils as long as I like--and that considering the nature of such a proceeding, it is unreasonable to presume that a young man of sense and character would attempt it--ah, but the gentleman doesn't say you are a young man of sense and character, mark you that, sir
This promise pleased the woman and she soon became more pleasant, saying they could stay the night at her house and begin their voyage on the river next morning.
The fact was that Professor Maxon regretted the promise he had made von Horn relative to his daughter.
She made me promise not to -- mother made me promise not to.
Promise me that when next you are angry you will count one hundred before you move or speak.
I don't care a pin about smoking, so can give it up as easy as not, and I promise you I will.