At one time some of them were used so much that they became trite, we suppose.
Maybe that's why we don't hear many of these quite as much anymore. But they still stick out in our memory and maybe you still hear a few now and then.
Anyway, here they are -- along with their explanations:
Running to beat the band.
As in running alongside the band in a parade. You ran so fast you ran out both the band and yourself. When he heard that siren go off, he started running to beat the band
For all the tea in China.
You won't do something, no matter what you're offered. Not for all the tea in China would get on that rollercoaster.
Snug as a bug in a rug.
You're happy and content in a comfortable situation -- often with someone you're close to. When she got back to the ski lodge she saw him, settled down by the fire and was snug as a bug in a rug.
Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.
You've been surprised and/or confounded. Or, you were caught off guard or ave been made to look foolish. He married her? Really? Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle!
Raining cats and dogs.
It's raining really hard -- relentlessly. It was raining cats and dogs and she was drenched.
Wait broke the wagon.
An extremely long wait for something (or someone) rendered it's arrival meaningless. By the time he arrived, wait broke the wagon.
He ate us out of house and home.
Well, he pretty much ate everything in sight. By the time we found the dog he was emaciated and ready to eat us out of house and home.
Dressed to the nines.
Pretty much the same as dressed to kill -- maybe even overdressed. When she finally came down the steps she was dressed to the nines.
Dumb as a doornail.
Dumber than dumb. Really stupid. I knew he wasn't very bright but, my goodness, he was dumb as a doornail.
Let’s get down to brass tacks.
Get down to business or get down to the nitty gritty. Cut through the red tape and get to the bottom line. When you get down to the brass tacks, this deal won't work.
The shoemaker’s always the one with holes in his shoes.
The repairman is so busy fixing other people's stuff that he has no time (or inclination) to repair his own. The contractor's house was beyond repair just like the shoemaker's shoes always have holes in them.
He kicked the bucket.
He died. Oh, he kicked the bucket years ago. Didn't you know?
Crazy as a loon.
Irrational. Out-of-balance. Nuts. I tried to reason with her but it's hopeless. She's crazy as a loon.
Happy as a bumblebee.
Thrilled. Giddy, Delighted. When she found out he won she was happy as a bumblebee.
Over the moon.
Ecstatic. Euphoric. Overjoyed. Wildly in love. When he slipped the engagement ring on her finger she was over the moon.
And just for good measure, here's one more:
A sin and a shame. It's both terribly wrong and awfully sad at the same time. They were cheated out of that championship. It's really a sin and a shame.