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40 acres and a mule

1. Something given by the government. The phrase refers to a promise made during the Civil War by Union general William T. Sherman that freed slaves would receive 40 acres of land and a mule. However, after the war that land was given back to its original owners. I'm doing just fine on my own—I don't need 40 acres and a mule from Uncle Sam. A: "If only the government would helps the poorest members of society." B: "Right? 40 acres and a mule would be welcome these days." I don't need food stamps. The government can keep its 40 acres and a mule, as far as I'm concerned.
2. A promise or assurance that proves to be false. I think he's just tempting us with that offer, and it'll turn out to be 40 acres and a mule. We're getting Christmas bonuses this year? Right, along with 40 acres and a mule. Don't believe the boss if he says you'll get your own parking spot—that's like 40 acres and a mule at this point.
See also: 40, acre, and, mule

all over hell's half acre

Spread out across a great distance or area; all over the place. Primarily heard in US. I missed my turn when I was driving out to meet you, and I was all over hell's half acre before I was able to find the right road again! We'll never find all the papers we dropped, the wind has scattered them all over hell's half acre by now. I've been looking all over hell's half acre trying to find you! Where have you been?
See also: acre, all, half, over

God's acre

A nickname for a church graveyard. The phrase comes from the German word Gottesacker, meaning "God's field" or "God's seed field," an allusion to the notion that believers are "sown" in it. Well, we'll all be buried in God's acre someday.
See also: acre


1. noun, slang Someone who is insolently overconfident in their own intelligence or wit. Oh, don't listen to that wiseacre. He just likes the sound of his own voice. Quit being such a wiseacre and listen for a change!
2. adjective, slang Of or indicating such a person. The film focuses on a no-nonsense detective after he is paired with a young wiseacre partner. I'm getting pretty tired of all her wiseacre comments.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

God's acre

a churchyard. archaic
This phrase comes from the German word Gottesacker meaning ‘God's seed field’ in which the bodies of the dead are ‘sown’.
See also: acre

hell's half acre

a great distance. North American
See also: acre, half
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

God’s acre

n. a cemetery. When I end up in God’s acre, I want everything to go on without me.
See also: acre


n. a jerk; a wiseguy. We’ve got ways of dealing with a wiseacre like you!
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

Forty acres and a mule

A a government handout; a broken promise. As Union general William T. Sherman marched through Georgia and other parts of the confederacy during the Civil War, he promised freed slaves the gift of forty acres of South Carolina and Georgia farmland and an army mule with which to work the soil. Following the war, however, President Johnson rescinded Sherman's order, and the appropriated land was restored to its owners. While most citizens adopted the phrase as a metaphor for either any form of government handout (or a trifling salary or bonus from their employer), African-Americans who remembered the expression's history used it as a rueful reminder of a offer that was reneged upon.
See also: acre, and, forty, mule

God's acre

A churchyard burial area. The phrase is a translation of the German word, Gottesacker, “God's field” where the souls of the faithful are sown. The phrase also been used for the dedication of a portion of a farm field or a garden plot to growing food that will be given to the needy. The phrase should not be confused with Erskine Caldwell's 1933 novel, God's Little Acre.
See also: acre
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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