Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Catch Phrases

Ever have a phrase run through your head over and over again?

Sometimes when you hear a song on the radio you remember from your youth, you hear a jingle on the radio, or someone nearby you starts humming a tune - these things stay with you all day.

I’ve read posts recently that featured song lyrics and those lyrics played over and over in my head all day.

There are certain phrases that cause me to automatically think of a movie when I hear them. One of those I mentioned in an earlier post.
‘I’m so tired’ - Blazing Saddles
‘What ever ..’ - Congo
‘The key’ - The Mummy (1999)
‘Who you goin’ call’ - Ghostbusters
‘Houston, we have a problem’ - Apollo 13
‘I’m sick and tired’ - Bill Cosby Himself

These are just a few. But what about phrases from books? While writing this I couldn’t think of one that’s not also associated with a movie - Gone With the Wind, Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, and so on.

It’s not because there are no memorable phrases in books, there are. It’s just with movies, we hear them over and over again. With a book, we usually just read it once. However, there are some books we re-read again and again.

When you read do you associate a phrase with a book to remember it? As a writer, do you add a catch phrase to help your readers connect with the book?

Did you know the phrases I mentioned above? Do you have any phrases you associate with movies? What about with books?


  1. I'm not sure why I remember movie phrases more so than catchy phrases from a book. I had never thought of this, but I will be thinking on it.

    I've only seen Blazing Saddles, Ghostbuster and Apollo 13 and yes I remember those phrases and may have used the Houston one more than once.

  2. I just did a post on having the theme song to Indiana Jones stuck in my head. Thinking about books, I don't tend to get phrases stuck in my head but I do pull words out or associate certain words with books. For instance I always associate defenstration with David Eddings because it was the first time I encountered the word and he used it in an interesting and comedic way.
    Interesting post and something to think about.

  3. That's really interesting - I can't think of any memorable quotes from a book off the top of my head, and yet, I can think of a whole bunch of movie quotes!

    "You talking to me?" Al Pacino - Taxi Driver

    "You had me at hello." Renee Zellwegger - Jerry McGuire

    "I'll be back." - Arnold Schwarzenegger - Terminator

  4. My husband has a habit of taking phrases and turning it to music. Unfortunately, he can't sing and seldom gets the phrase right to begin with. So for me, I rarely use movie phrases because of him. It doesn't stop him of course.

    I liked your blog. It made me laugh this morning. Thank you.


  5. The phrase I remember is from The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai: "Wherever you go, there you are."

  6. Maybe it's because we "hear" them in movies as opposed to "seeing" them in books.

    Of course, now that you pose the question, I can't think of any of the phrases, either in movies or books!

  7. Teresa, it is funny how we use phrases from movies everyday.

    Cassandrajade, oh now I'll have the theme music from Indy in my head all day. LOL

    Ingrid, those are good quotes. I definitely should have remembered, "I'll be back" as many times as I've watched The Terminator.

    Clarissa, thanks. I'm glad I could make you laugh. Now you've made me smile.

    Laura, that is a good one. I ran across The Adventures of Buckaroo Bonzai on the TV a couple weeks ago for the first time in years.

    Terry, I know. When you try to think of something like that, you can't. If you're like me, hours later something will come to you out of the blue. :)

  8. Or like "You can't handle the truth" from "A Few Good Men" - the way Jack Nicholson delivered that line has stuck in my head ever since.

  9. A few of your phrases have become almost their own lingo, used in so many ways. Especially Houston, we have a problem. In my family, we often quote dialogue from White Christmas in our everyday conversations. It's amazing how the lines we use fit whatever we happen to be talking about!

  10. Usually its a stupid commercial from 20 years ago. A jingle. You don't hear jingles anymore. Whatever happened to them? I don't know.

    But I do know I can ,"Brush my breath, brush my breath, brush my breath with Dentyne."

    Stephen Tremp

  11. From A TALE OF TWO CITIES: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." Also, the infamous "It was a dark and stormy night" from Edward Bulwer-Lytton. My fave line is from F. Scott Fitzgerald's THE GREAT GATSBY: "He must have... paid a high price for living too long with a single dream."

  12. Oh, Mason, there are too many to count. One of my close friends and his brother could conduct an entire conversation--on any subject, I'd bet-- using only movie quotes.

    Frequent quotables include Blazing Saddles (of course), Caddyshack, and the Three Amigos. I'm not sure why, even when the punchline's totally out of context, I quote comedies way more than drama. Maybe because I'm more likely to re-watch them enough to absorb?

  13. "Who you gonna call?" and "Houston, we have a problem." I've only seen each movie once, but the phrases pop up in conversation every once in a while.

  14. Marvin, that is a good one. I'd had forgotten about it.

    Joanne, White Christmas does have a lot of good phrases from it.

    Stephen, I miss the old jingles too. I remember Demolition Man featured a radio station that just played old jingles.

    David, "It was a dark and stormy night" is a favorite of mine. Thanks for reminding me about it.

    Clare2e, oh Caddyshack is a good one. I think I've only seen Three Amigos once so nothing comes to mind from it.

    Patricia, those phrases do pop up from time to time.

  15. I remember more phrases from movies than I do from books.

  16. the murder mystery company I have had with two pals for well over twenty years is called 'CatchWord Productions' but for the life of me, I can't remember why! I don't put them on purpose in my books but they might show up there. I do think of them from movies though 'make my day' (Dirty Harry) - 'Frankly Miss Scarlett, I don't Give A Damn' and a favorite that was lampooned in Mad Magazine a zillion years back 'the family that prays together stays together' yikes.

  17. Really interesting. I hadn't thought about this much before, but you're so right. We do quote movies all the time. I know a few first lines from books "It was a pleasure to burn" always stuck with me from Fahrenheit 451. But there aren't many. :)

  18. Dru, that seems to be the way most people are. Guess we just remember what we hear better than what we read.

    Jan, those are all good phrases. I can't believe I didn't include one of Clint's phrase since yesterday was his 80th birthday. Wow.

    Jemi, amazing. I can't think of the first few lines of any book like that.

  19. I love collecting quotes--my own, rather than ones from a book of quotations.

    And I get earworms--song bits that play in my head.

    And I tend to burst into song if something someone says reminds me of a song.

  20. Recently I've watched a lot of the show "How I Met Your Mother", and one of the characters (Barney) has several memorable catch phrases. Normally I don't like catch phrases because they might become so prominent that they undermine the rest of the show/movie, but in this case it fits so well with the character that I can't help but quote him: "It's gonna be LEGEND - wait for it - DARY!"

    I have never thought of catch phrases in books, though. I guess it would have to be a very specific character for that to work for me.

    Great post!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.