24 Idioms And Their Modern-Day Counterparts


1. “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

Today there’s absolutely nothing you can buy in pennies, which means a penny saved is either just that—an extra penny—or a waste of your time.

2. “Actions speak louder than words.”

While actions do speak louder than words, I’ve found that emojis are the noisiest of all. There’s only one true indicator of love in our modern world and that’s the emoji with the little hearts instead of eyes.

3. “As high as a kite.”

“As high as a kite” was working out just fine for us until bath salts became a thing to snort and that cannibal dude raised the bar significantly. I declare the modernized version of this idiom to be: “As high as that dude who ate that other dude’s face.”

4. “Between a rock and a hard place.”

Rob Ford has ruled and, in doing so, has triumphantly improved upon this idiom. Henceforth we will only say “Between two crack rocks: the Rob Ford story.”

5. “You bite your tongue.”

Yet another outdated phrase seeing as we have replaced all forms of verbal and vocal communication with text messaging. “You break your thumb” is exceedingly more palatable for today’s One Direction-obsessed adolescents.

6. “A cat nap.”

Gone are the days when cat naps were reserved just for cats. We’re living in an Arianna Huffington world, people, and I am an Arianna Huffington girl. A more suitable, digestible phrase would be “a Huffpo nap.”

7. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

Oh, no you don’t! We’ve already made the mistake of ambiguity once, we’re not going to make it again. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” means just don’t give all of your money to Madoff, okay?

8. “Drastic times call for drastic measures.”

Rarely are times ever “drastic” anymore, and especially if you live in NYC where you can find an artisanal grilled cheese at any hour of the day. Let’s be real: there’s only one thing left that isn’t a 40-minute Seamless delivery away from your couch and that’s weed. Which is why this phrase should really be: “I just smoked a roach that I found on the sidewalk.”

9. “Ethnic cleansing.”

Unless I’m Thomas Jefferson, I think this is what we “modern” humans call genocide.

10. “Feel like a million bucks.”

With inflation it should really be more like 1.3 million bucks.

11. “Get up on the wrong side of the bed.”

Just tell a millennial that you didn’t wake up like Beyoncé and to sue you—they’ll get it.

12. “Head over heels.”

Again, a pinch of Beyoncé is sometimes all you need to modernize an otherwise outmoded idiom. “Drunk in love” is the new “head over heels.”

13. “Hit the books.”

Seeing as all 20-somethings can only comprehend information if it’s presented to them in listicle form, it seems highly unlikely that they’d be able to wrap their heads around a phrase like “hitting the books.” Instead, try something like “slapping the docx.”

14. “Hit the hay.”

I walked passed my neighborhood homeless man today, fast asleep outside on a Tempur-Pedic, and it occurred to me that this phrase might need an update. Something like “Smack the 25 thread count duvet cover” seems more apt.

15. “Hold your horses.”

We don’t “hold our horses” anymore, we “imprison killer whales like Tilikum,” thank you very much.

16. “The icing on the cake.”

“The Sriracha on the burrito” is more like it.

17. “Have it in the bag.”

It just doesn’t relay the same message it used to. What bag? And how many copies are in the bag? All I want to know is that you’ve “saved as” and copied it onto your hard drive.

18. “It takes two to tango.”

Well that’s all fine and dandy, but unfortunately there’s nary a living human who knows how to tango anymore, so this is really a moot point. Which is why “It takes six to gang bang” feels more contemporary.

19. “Like a chicken with its head cut off.”

Except this doesn’t make any sense at all because the modern-day woman is more familiar with a headless chicken than a non-headless one. Luckily, we finally have a more realistic and easier-to-understand comparison: “Like Rob Ford on a Tuesday night.”

20. “Off the record.”

“Off the record” just doesn’t carry the same weight it used to. You want to know how to illegally download movies? I want to hear, “I checked and the NSA is not wiretapping our call.”

21. “Practice makes perfect.”

Does it? Because in my experience practice MIGHT give you an internship—and an unpaid one at that.

22. “Saved by the bell.”

For the rest of us who aren’t Zack Morris, we’re more often saved by the snapchat or Facebook notification.

23. “Steal someone’s thunder.”

“Bitch regrammed my post.”

24. “Van Gogh’s ear for music.”

Finally there’s an artist whose mere name suggests all that this antiquated idiom once did. Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Macklemore. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Writer at Thought Catalog. Follow me on Twitter.

Keep up with Rachel on Twitter

More From Thought Catalog