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See Also: CONVERSATION
- As full of words as a hen salmon of eggs —Ben Ames Williams
- Babble as one mad with wine —Algernon Charles Swinburne
- Chattered like a shipload of monkeys in a storm —Anon
- Chattered like squirrels —Larry McMurtry
- Chattered on like a lunatic chimpanzee —Truman Capote
- Chattered on like a chickadee in a feed trough —Donald McCaig
- Chattering … like a flock of starlings —Jimmy Sangster
- Chattering like magpies —Christina Rossetti
- Chattering like one to whom speech was a new accomplishment —Calder Willingham
- Chatter like a bluejay —Eleanor Clark
- Chatter like a mob of sparrows —Jerome K. Jerome
- Chatter like sick flies —Algernon Charles Swinburne
- Gabbled on like machines set in motion —Charlotte Brontë
- Gabbling at one another like so many turkeys —Harvey Swados
- Great talkers are like leaky pitchers, everything runs out of them —H. G. Bohn’s Handbook of Proverbs
- Had a tongue that flapped like a banner in a fair wind —George Garrett
- He was like a man who’d just emerged from six months in solitary, like the sole survivor of a shipwreck, Crusoe with a captive audience: he could not shut up —T. Coraghessan Boyle
- Jabbered on like a drunk old uncle —Richard Ford
- Like a book in breeches … he [Macaulay] has occasional flashes of silence, that make his conversation perfectly delightful —Sydney Smith
- Like a crane or a swallow, so did I chatter —The Holy Bible/Isaiah
- Long-winded as a writer who gets paid by the word —Anon
- Open [up, with information] like a wet envelope —Harold Adams
- [Coleridge] speaks incessantly, not thinking or imagining or remembering, but combining all these processes into one; as a rich and lazy housewife might mingle her soup and fish, beef and custard into one unspeakable mass —Thomas Carlyle
- Talkative persons are like barrels; the less there is in them, the more noise they make —John Gideon Mulligan
- Talked and talked like a man in a high fever —Erich Maria Remarque
- Talked on and on as if he was rehearsing for a speech —John Dos Passos
- A tremendous talker and like a greedy eater at an ordinary dinner, keeping to himself an entire dish of which everyone present would like to have partaken —Punch, 1857
- Went into detail … like an obstetrician describing how he got two fingers in to turn the baby’s head out of breech, or, yes, like an old fisherman taking you along step by step on how to bait a hook so that the wriggler stays alive —Norman Mailer
- The words came out of his throat like a cataract —Carson McCullers
- Words came tumbling out of me like coins from a change dispenser —Natascha Wodin
- Words flowed from him like oil from a gusher —O. Henry
- Wordy like somebody with a fever —George Garrett
- The world to him is a vast lecture-platform … as one long after-dinner, with himself as the principal speaker of the evening —P. G. Wodehouse
beat one’s gums To talk excessively but ineffectually; to speak volubly but to no purpose; to ramble on idly. Articulatory power lies in tongue, teeth, and palate. Toothless gums mean feebleness and ineffectiveness. The phrase was particularly popular during World War II.
chew the fat To talk or chat; to shoot the breeze; to have a long-winded conversation. This slang expression has been in print since the last quarter of the 19th century. Today it continues to be a popular phrase for indulging in idle chatter. Chewing on fat provides relatively little sustenance for the amount of mastication involved.
chew the rag To talk or chat; to discuss a matter, usually in a complaining or argumentative way; to harp on an old grievance. Although chew the rag is used interchangeably with chew the fat, the former was previously used for complaining or arguing. The insignificancy of such conversation is expressed in the following line from Scribner’s Magazine (1909):
How better is conversational impotence characterized than by “chewing the rag”?
flannelmouth See FLATTERY.
flap one’s chops To drivel inanely, to blather; to talk idly; also flap one’s jowls or jaw or lip. This phrase is obviously derived from the facial movements of the perpetual chatterbox.
Well, you weren’t just flapping your lip that time. (Peter DeVries, in The New Yorker, May, 1951)
flibbertigibbet A gossip; a mindless and frivolously talkative person; a mischievous and, at times, malicious prattler. This expression, in use since the 16th century, may be either an onomatopoeic representation of meaningless chatter and drivel or a corruption of “flapper of the jibs,” where jib is slang for ‘lip.’
Good Mrs. Flibber de Jibb, with the French fly-flap of your coxcomb. (Richard Brome, The Sparagus Garden, 1635)
People named Flibbertigibbet have appeared several times in literature, most notably as a fiend or devil in Shakespeare’s King Lear, and as a grotesque, ill-mannered, mischievous imp in Sir Walter Scott’s Kenilworth (1821).
This is the foul fiend Flibbertigibbet; He begins at curfew, and walks till the first cock. (Shakespeare, King Lear, III, iv)
the gift of gab Fluency or glibness of speech; volubility or talkativeness, often with connotations of shallowness and lack of substance; also the gift of the gab. The original expression was apparently the gift of the gob, gob being a northern dialectal and slang term for mouth, possibly from the Gaelic and Irish gob ‘beak, mouth.’
jaw-me-dead An extremely loquacious person; one who engages in interminable senseless chatter. Jaw in this phrase means ‘a long conversation, incessant chatter.’ Jaw-me-dead is an epithet, hyperbolically describing the effect of one who bends someone’s ear.
shoot the breeze To chat, talk aimlessly, or gab; to gossip; to exaggerate. Since a breeze is a mild wind, and shoot is ‘to send forth,’ to shoot the breeze implies that a person’s babbling is of trivial importance, serving only to create a minor current in the air.
We were sitting outdoors, enjoying ourselves and shooting the breeze. (Billy Rose, in a syndicated newspaper column, 1950)
Two variations are bat the breeze and fan the breeze.
shoot the bull To engage in idle, trivial, or aimless conversation; to gossip; to boast, flatter, or exaggerate; to lie. In this expression, bull may be derived from the Middle Latin bulla ‘game, jest’ or it may be a shortened, less offensive version of bullshit ‘nonsense, lies.’ Thus to shoot the bull implies that though many words are being spoken, nothing of much consequence is being said.
You could see he really felt pretty lousy about flunking me. So I shot the bull for a while. (J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye, 1951)
talk a blue streak To speak rapidly, continuously, and at great length; to be voluble or garrulous. Though most commonly used in reference to speech or the flow of words, blue streak can also denote rapidity of anything. The term probably stems from the blinding speed and vividness of a lightning flash.
Interspersing his vehement comments with a “blue streak” of oaths. (The Knickerbocker, 1847)
verbal diarrhea Excessive talkativeness; the unleashing of a word hoard; an overly pompous or verbose discourse. This obvious analogy has older and more reputable antecedents than might be supposed:
He … was troubled with a diarrhea of words. (Horace Walpole, Memoirs of George III, 1797)