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(as) poor as a church mouse

Very poor; having little or no money. My father was as poor as a church mouse growing up, so his sole focus was to give his kids every opportunity in life that he missed out on. We've become poor as church mice ever since the bank raised the interest rates on our mortgage. He's poor as a church mouse now because he squandered his inheritance on lavish, unnecessary purchases.
See also: church, mouse, poor

(as) sober as a judge

Other figures associated with sobriety are occasionally used in place of "judge," typically ecclesiastical figures such as "deacon," "priest," "parson," etc.
1. Stoic and reserved, perhaps even somber. Anita has been as sober as a judge ever since she heard of Marshall's death. The coach stood at the side of the field, sober as a judge, as the clock counted down on his team's championship ambitions. When I walked into the boss's office and everyone was sober as a judge, I knew I was being laid off.
2. Calm and rational. We need someone who can consider these issues without their emotions interfering—you'll need to be as sober as a judge from beginning to end! I don't want you in this meeting if you can't be sober as a judge. The last thing I want to do is referee a fight between the two of you. I don't think we should discuss this now, while we're all worked up about it. Let's reconvene in a few days when we're sober as a judge.
3. Not at all intoxicated by drugs or alcohol. I haven't been drinking at all, I swear! I'm as sober as a judge! Bill tried to convince me he was sober as a judge, but I didn't buy it—that's why I didn't let him drive home. John's remained sober as a deacon ever since the car accident three years ago.
See also: judge, sober

(I'll) see you in church

dated Goodbye; I'll see you again soon or at the normal place or time. Uncommon when not used to literally refer to regular church services. A: "I'd better get going, Tom." B: "All right, Mark. See you in church!" Nice talking to you, Margaret. I'll see you in church! A: "Thank you for all of your help with the food drive." B: "My pleasure, Father. See you in church."
See also: church, see

be as poor as church mice

To have little or no money. Now that we're paying a mortgage, we're as poor as church mice.
See also: church, mice, poor

broad church

1. A label referring to a group of 17th-century English theologians who adhered to some practices of the Church of England but disregarded other elements of the Church, such as doctrine and liturgical practice. Primarily heard in UK. The broad church movement in 17th-century England may have helped shape the more liberal views and practices of modern-day Christianity.
2. A group or organization composed of various types of people with differing views, opinions, or philosophies. Primarily heard in UK. The Independent Party is a broad church as its members hold wildly differing opinions on how to best solve the problems facing society today.
See also: broad, church

church

interjection An exclamation of agreement or affirmation. A: "The federal government will bail out huge corporations, but what about us? We racked up massive student debt for jobs that are nonexistent now, thanks to the economic crash. Where's our help?" B: Church!" A: "I hate having to be in class discussions with Ben—he's such a cocky jerk." B: "Church, sister."

church ain't out till they quit singing

Something is not over yet. Yes, we've had some setbacks this season, but that's no excuse to give up. Church ain't out till they quit singing!
See also: church, out, quit, singe, till

church key

A tool used to remove caps from glass bottles and puncture lids on cans. The phrase can also be used simply as slang for a bottle opener. Be sure to bring a church key with you so we can open up the bottles! Here, use this church key to open that can of soup.
See also: church, key

darken a church door

To attend church or a service therein. I was raised Catholic, but I haven't darkened a church door since I was 15 years old.
See also: church, darken, door

go over like a fart in church

slang To be received very poorly; to elicit a displeased or disgusted response. A: "How do you think everyone will react to the lack of bonuses this year?" B: "Oh, that news will go over like a fart in church!" I tried to make a joke about politics during dinner with my in-laws, but it went over like a fart in church.
See also: church, fart, go, like, over

in the right church but in the wrong pew

Correct in a general sense but wrong about the specifics. Well, you're the right church but in the wrong pew, Ted. Hemingway is indeed a modernist, but his sparse style is quite different from Faulkner's stream of consciousness.
See also: but, church, pew, right, wrong

like a fart in church

slang Negatively, eliciting a displeased or disgusted response. A: "How do you think everyone will react to the lack of bonuses this year?" B: "Oh, that news will go over like a fart in church!" I tried to make a joke about politics during dinner with my in-laws, but it was so awkward and unfunny, like a fart in church.
See also: church, fart, like

separation of church and state

The phrase comes from US Founding Father Thomas Jefferson, who wrote of "a wall of separation between church and state" in 1802.
1. The idea that a government should not involve itself in issues of religion. Of course there should be a separation of church and state! You don't want the government dictating which faith you practice, do you?
2. By extension, the treatment of any two related things as separate entities. OK, we need some separation of church and state here—I don't want my personal money to keep getting mixed up with the money I'm setting aside for taxes.
See also: and, church, of, separation, state

sweat like a sinner in church

To sweat profusely. (A sinner would likely be fearful of eternal damnation while attending church.) It gets so hot and humid down here in the summer that you start sweating like a sinner in church as soon as you step out your front door! I was so nervous during the interview that I was sweating like a sinner in church!
See also: church, like, sinner, sweat

the nearer the church, the farther from God

proverb The higher up someone is in the church hierarchy, the more likely they are to be corrupt, immoral, or sinful. A: "It turns out the archbishop himself was the one who ran the entire cover-up operation." B: "Doesn't surprise me. The nearer the church, the farther from God." The highest order of the church is shrouded in secrecy, but the few reports that make their way to the public often detail a decadent, even vulgar lifestyle. I suppose, as they say, the nearer the church, the farther from God.
See also: farther, god, nearer
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

Church ain't out till they quit singing.

Rur. things have not yet reached the end. Charlie: No way our team can win now. Mary: Church ain't out till they quit singing. There's another inning to go.
See also: church, out, quit, singe, till

church key

a two-ended device used to remove bottle tops and to pierce a hole in can lids. I'm looking for the church key so I can open this beer. She opened the can of tomato juice with the church key.
See also: church, key

nearer the church, the farther from God

Prov. Church officials, or people who live near the church, are not truly pious. Jill: I think our pastor is an evil man. Jane: I didn't think evil men could be pastors. Jill: Of course they can! The nearer the church, the farther from God.
See also: farther, god, nearer

*poor as a church mouse

 and *poor as church mice
very poor. (*Also: as ~.) My aunt is as poor as a church mouse. The Browns are poor as church mice.
See also: church, mouse, poor
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

poor as a churchmouse

Having little or no wealth and few possessions, as in She's poor as a churchmouse, so you can't expect her to donate anything. The reason for this long-used simile is unclear, but most believe that, since churches are not known for storing food, a mouse inside one would fare poorly. It has survived such earlier phrases as poor as Job. [Second half of 1600s]
See also: churchmouse, poor
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a broad church

BRITISH
You call an organization, group, or area of activity a broad church when it includes a wide range of opinions, beliefs, or styles. The movement is presently a very broad church, comprising, amongst others, trade unions, the church and the business community. Rock music in France is a very broad church indeed.
See also: broad, church

poor as a church mouse

OLD-FASHIONED
If someone is as poor as a church mouse, they have very little money. I was as poor as a church mouse, but I bought that wreck of a car. I suspect we'll continue to be poor as church mice. Note: Mice living in a church are unlikely to find much to eat as there is no kitchen or food cupboard.
See also: church, mouse, poor
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

poor as a church mouse (or as church mice)

extremely poor.
Church mice may be considered to be particularly poor or deprived in that they do not have the opportunity to find pickings from a kitchen or larder.
See also: church, mouse, poor
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

a broad ˈchurch

(British English) an organization that accepts a wide range of opinions
See also: broad, church

(as) poor as a church ˈmouse

very poor: She was as poor as a church mouse, living on a tiny pension. OPPOSITE: (as) rich as Croesus
See also: church, mouse, poor
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

church key

n. a beer can opener designed to puncture a can, leaving a triangular hole; a bottle opener. (Older. No longer widely known, but still in use. One type of bottle opener is formed from metal following the outline of a large keyhole. This may have contributed to the origin of this term.) Where is the church key when I need it?
See also: church, key

See you in church

and CUIC
sent. & comp. abb. See you around.; See you where I normally see you. (Has nothing to do with an actual church.) Bye. See you in church.
See also: church, see
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

poor as a churchmouse

Singularly impecunious. This simile dates from the seventeenth century and its original analogy has been lost. Most authorities speculate that since a church usually has no place for food storage, such as a mouse might invade, mice would fare very poorly in churches. Indeed, James Howell’s 1659 proverb collection states it as hungry as a churchmouse. The current cliché has outlived the even older and once more common poor as Job (who in the Bible was deprived of all his possessions by Satan), poor as Lazarus, and poor as Job’s turkey (which, according to one of Thomas Haliburton’s Sam Slick tales, had only a single feather).
See also: churchmouse, poor
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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