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Mill-Speak: "Sayings" from the Mill

Mill-Speak: "Sayings" from the Mill

Collected by Theodore R. Hazen

Remember the miller when you eat your daily bread

The worst wheel always creaks the most

Mills don't grind if you given them no water

No mill, no meal; no will, no deal - Greek-Roman proverb

The mill of the gods grinds slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine

The lower millstone grinds as well as the upper

The chronic debtor lives with a millstone around his neck

Fare to middlin (fine to middlings)

Where there's a mill there's a way- Where there's a will there's a way

Time and tide wait for no man (tidal mill)

You measure your neighbor's corn by your own bushel

Wait your "turn"

Turn of corn

Who comes first to the mill, first must grind - Saxomy proverb ,Saxomy Law 1220

First come, first served - Swedish proverb

Who so comth first to mille, first grynt - Chaucer-Canterbury Tales

Every miller draws water to his own mill

The mill is never silent while the damsel sings her song

Oh, it's the same old grind

Back to the old grind

Not by a dam site

It's all the grist that comes to his mill

Milling around

Mill round - windmill

Sharp teeth biting the corne

Grist for his or her mill

It's all grist that comes to his mill

Put through the mill -Run of the mill

Judge your feed by your speed

As still as a mill pond

Old back (dam) gone out

I am just a cog in a wheel

Keep your nose to the grindstone

Show your mettle

Are you worth your mettle?

A lot of water runs by the mill while the miller soundly sleeps - "it is just water over the dam."

Much water runs while the miller sleeps - English Proverb

Safe as a thief in a mill

Many a miller, many a thief

What is bolder than a miller's neck-cloth which takes a thief by the throat every morning - Fuller 1732

As stout as a miller's waistcoat, that takes a thief by the throat every day - German

Here lies an honest miller, and that is Strange - Epitaph on Essex churchyard of a miller named Strange

Like a miller's mare

Dusty miller

Dusty (apprentice)

Miller's thumb

Meal-er (English origin of miller)

Meal-ing (English origin of milling)

Meal-maker (Yorkshire 1272)

Mill-man (Colchester 1373)


Molla (origin of the word mill- Latin molina)

It is good to be sure; toll it again, quote the miller - The miller and his three sons

When heather bells grow cockle shells, the miller and the priest will forget themselves -R. Chambers - Popular Rhymes of Scotland 1842

Put a miller, a weaver, and a tailor in a bag, and shake them, the first that comes out will be a thief - Howell 1659

The miller got never better moulter (toll) than he took with his own hands - Kelly 1721

Every honest miller has a golden thumb, well could he steal - Chaucer- Canterbury Tales

Like Chaucer's Miller going through life fat, drunk, and stupid

The lighter the dough the faster you go, the whiter the bread the sooner your dead!

Mills and wives are ever wanting -Rays...English Proverbs 1813

Earth's a mill where we grind and wear mufflers - Robert Browning

Millery, millery, dusty soul, how many sacks have you stole?- English Nursery Rhyme

A millstone and the human heart are driven ever round. If they have nothing else to grind, they must themselves be ground - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen to the water mill through the live long day how the clicking of its wheel wears the hours away -Sarah Doiudney 1843-1926 Lesson of the Water Mill

The mill cannot grind with the water that is past - Sarah Doiudney 1843-1926

An ax to grind - Ax Mill

He's been through the mill - Colloquial

To go through the mill, stood a while lot

To draw water to one's mill

Still water run no mills -Aghionby - Life of Bickerstaff

The miller sees not all the water that goes by the his mill - Burton -Anatomy of Melancholy

Back of the loaf is the snowy flour, and back of the flour is the mill
And back of the mill is the wheat and the shower,
And the sun and the father's will -Maltbie D. Babcock 1858-1901

There was a jolly miller once
Lived on the river dee
He worked and sun from morn till night
No lark more blithe than he

And this the burden of his song
Forever used to be:
'I care for nobody, no not I
If no one cares for me - Issac Bickerstaff 1780

O the little rusty dusty miller,
Dusty was his coat,
Dusty was his color,
Dusty was the kiss I got from the miller,
If I had my pockets
Full of gold and siller,
I would give it all
To my dusty miller - A Nursery song popular from 1708 to 1866

The wind is right

Bread is the staff of life

Feel the workings of his mill

Behind the loaf is the flour
And behind the flour is the mill,
Behind the mill is the wind and the shower
And the sun, and the Father's will - A Blessing

Old Mill your dear arms seem to stretch out in loving embrace to me

Dry-land sailers - Wind millers

Flag on the mill, ship in the bay - Sag Harbor, Long Island

You can never tell upon whose grain the miller's pig was fattened - Old English Proverb

The miller's hogs were always fat - Old American saying

No miller can enter heaven - Old Normandy saying

One who on earth has been a miller tells nought but lies afterward - Old Normandy saying

Besides every mill stands a hill of sand (and sawdust) - Old German saying

Men grind and grind in the mill of a truism and nothing comes out but what was put in - Ralph Waldo Emerson

The mill goes toiling slowly round with steady and solemn creak - Eugene Field

Her thoughts as still as the water under a ruined mill - Joseph Campbell 1881

I feel as stupid, from all you've said as if a mill wheel whirled in my head -Goethe -Faust Act 1

Though the mills of god grind slowly,
Yet they grind exceedingly small;
Though with patience he stands waiting,
with exactness grinds he all - Friedrich von Logan : Retrbution 1655

Less good from genius we may find
Than that from perseverance flowing
So have good grist and hand to grind
And keep the mill a-going - Robert Burton 1576-1640

Your eyes are so sharpe that you cannot only look
Through a millstone, but cleane through the minde - John Lyly 1553-1601

Pick up the stones

Dive into a millstone

See far into a millstone

Eyes dropped millstones

Wept millstones

The furrows should be made sharp at feather edge

The noise of the damsel

Keep your nose to the grindstone

The mill wheels did go

There goes the mill wheel

Put your nose to the grindstone

....And hold one another noses to the grindstone hard - Robert Burton 1576-1640

Miller's mite

The Milner and the Milne

To Mill or to Meetin


Stone frolic

Toll or pottle

Bill stuff

Millstone silver

Miller's Cat

Miller's fat

The miller's horse is fed upon the grain of others

Dust explosion- Hell fire

Hell's bells- the warning bell

Out of balance


The farmer plows in the furrows and the miller puts in the furrows

Miller's knot

If it was not for the miller you would not have anything to eat

Mill wheels a grinding

All roads lead to the mill

Be plentiful in meal

Miller's soul

The road was a millstone rather than an asset

Whiten's with age

The flouring of the stone



Head of the mill

Roll out the barrel

Give me cracked corn my master gone away

Rode to the mill

Down by the old mill stream

Corn cracker

Custom Millin

Toll dish

Public mills

Full gate

Heart of the mill

Head of water

Milling to infinity

"New Process" milling

And the sound of the millstones shall be heard no more - Jeremiah

There are mill-rights and mill-wrongs

A millwright's sweat is strong enough to will kill a snake (or toad)

Wheat allowed to grow in the head as it stood, made bad bread which would not rise

It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea - Luke XVII

For if the flour be fresh and sound,
Who careth in what mill 'twas ground? - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Kabira wept when he beheld the millstone roll,
of that which passes 'Twixt the stones, nought goes forth whole - Eastwick - Bag o Behar

More water glideth by the mill - than wots the miller of - Shakespeare - Titus Andronicus

In hans' old mill his three black cats
Watch the bins for the thieving rats
Whisker and claw, they crouch in the night
Their fine eyes smoldering green and bright - Walter de la Mare

When meal comes to you that way,
like the heated underside of a settin' hen,
it bakes bread that makes city bread taste like cardboard

No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge; for he taketh a man's life to pledge - Deuteronomy XXIV:6

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Copyright 2000 by T. R. Hazen