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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic

Gabe: This jackass just said that something can go "through a ferrocrete bunker like a neutrino through plasma." I get it, man. It says Star Wars on the cover. I know I'm reading about Star Wars. It's like, do they not have butter in space? Or hot knives to cut it with?

Tycho: Listen, don't get your mynocks in a... sarlacc.

The author uses a popular and/or modern phrase in a work of Speculative Fiction, and adjusts it to the setting by replacing certain concepts with their more-or-less appropriate counterparts. Works as a sort of Shout-Out to make the reader/viewer more at home in the world, while at the same time highlighting the difference; it can also be used to disguise swears. Can backfire if the adjustment comes off as too arbitrary (e.g., if the proverb refers to concepts that should exist in the speculative setting as well).

At times these are specific to an exact scene, too. The replacement concepts can be tailored to characters and current action, rather than being a common phrase of its own. A cop with an antagonistic relationship to his Imperial liaison can sardonically say the liaison's investigation team got past security like X-Wings go through a Death Star. In this way it can overlap with Remember When You Blew Up a Sun?, though it can refer to past moments anywhere on the spectrum of awesome and suck.

Related to Call a Rabbit a Smeerp and Future Slang inasmuch as they're all about creating immersion through language use. The difference is that Hold Your Hippogriffs is, for one, not about words but phrases; for another, Hold Your Hippogriffs doesn't always create new words, although it can. It's also related to Flintstone Theming, but with fewer puns.

Supertrope of Oh My Gods. Not related to Call a Pegasus a Hippogriff. The inverse of this, when a word is replaced due to never having the chance to exist, is Orphaned Etymology.

Examples of Hold Your Hippogriffs include:

Multiple Media

  • The Transformers:
    • "You can stuff it up your [1]"
    • "Do you ever think you could be [2] for something bigger?"
    • "[3] over matter."
    • "Megatron?! The cruel and vicious Decepticon leader who eats Autobot [4] for breakfast?!"
    • "I've got one [5] in the [6]."
    • "Human! It's the Matrix or your [7]"
    • "You'll have to pry it from my cold, [8]"
    • "I'll tear out your [9]"
    • Also used for Unusual Euphemism to get crap past the radar:
      • "What, is my [10] hanging out or something?"
      • "Don't just stand there with your [11] in your [12]
      • "Kiss my [13]"
      • "Whoa! What crawled up your [14]"
      • "Go stuff it up your [15]"
      • "Brilliant my [16]"
      • "Blow it out your [17]"
      • "Tell him to blow it out his [18]"
      • That restaurant where the waitresses go around without [19]
      • [20]
  • Bionicle:
    • "Hold your [21] I'm coming!"
    • "All my friends went to Po-Koro, and all I got was this lousy [22]"
    • "Like [23] opening presents on [24]"
    • "It's a load of [25]"
    • "I have a feeling we're not in [26] any more!
    • "He clapped his hands over his [27]"
    • "Kill two [28] with one stone."
    • "The [29] on the other foot now!" (This one was Lampshaded, as another character tells the speaker that what he just said makes no sense.)

Anime & Manga

  • Pokémon: "Hold your [30]!"
    • "I'm so hungry I could eat a [31]!"
    • "Maybe if you weren't such a big fat [32], we'd get to the boat on time!"
    • "When the [33] fly."
      • Justified in that horses and pigs may not exist in the world of Pokémon, though "Hold your Ponyta/Rapidash!" would have made more sense. Plus Horsea is a really small Pokémon, so eating one wouldn't be all that satisfying either.


  • This is especially ridiculous in the Marvel Apes comics; "a [34] uncle" is an idiomatic phrase, except there are no humans in the Marvel Apes universe. Literally none. A few characters are mutated into human-like forms, but humanity is by and large nonexistent.
  • René Goscinny liked using this trope in his comics:
    • In Asterix, typical French curses involving God are transformed into those which involve Roman and Gaulish deities.
    • Lucky Luke's intellectual horse says, when crossing a river, "And the [35] told me not to bathe immediately after [36]"

Fan Works




 "Eh... I'm sorry, I guess I shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth. (Should have I said "pony" there I wonder...)"


Films — Animation

  • Balto:
    • "That's 'cause you're looking at the [42] half empty"
    • "It's not exactly a one-[43] show, Dixie."
    • "I'm sticking here until I'm sure you can stand on own [44] feet.
    • "Balto, I was so scared, I got [45] bumps!
  • A lot of Disney's humor is based on this trope.
    • Aladdin:
      • "Don't stand until the [46] has come to a complete stop."
      • "Wake up and smell the [47]" (which is ironic since coffee as we know it hails from Arabia)
      • "Mr. Doubting [48]"
      • "That two-faced son of a [49]"
      • "Hold onto your [50] kid!"
      • "It never fails, you get in the bath, and there's a [51] at the [52]"
      • The Aladdin series also does this, with lines like "In a [53] minute!"
    • Hercules
      • "Holy [54]"
      • "Is this an audience or [55]"
      • "Wanna buy a [56]"
      • "The honest-to-[57] truth."
      • Thebes is called the "Big [58]"
      • "Keep your [59] on, pal!"
      • "Someone call [60]"
      • "That's it, I'm moving to [61]"
      • "He's just another [62] chaser."
      • "...but I could see through that in a [63] minute."
    • The Little Mermaid:
      • "You're not getting cold [64] now, are you?"
      • "You are such a [65]"
      • "You give them an inch, they'll [66] all over you."
      • "The [67] is always greener / In somebody else's [68]"
      • "Someone needs to nail that girl's [69] to the floor."
      • "It's time Ursula took matters into her own [70]"
    • The Lion King
      • "This child is getting wildly out of [71]"
      • "I'm so hungry I could eat a [72]"
    • Pocahontas
      • "It's enough to make your [73] boil." (said by Grandmother Willow)
    • Mulan
      • "You don't meet a girl like that every [74]"
      • "Who [75] in her [76]"
    • Dumbo
      • "Girls, girls, listen. Have I got a [77] full of dirt."
  • Osmosis Jones: "You're pulling my [78]"
    • "You saved my [79] back there."
    • "I should be out in the [80] fighting [81]"
  • Happy Feet: "Can you speak plain [82] please?" and "I'm speaking plain [83]"
  • Toy Story has "Son of a [84]" and "Save your [85]"
  • A Bugs Life: "Ladies and gentle[87] [88] of all [89] [90] your [91] together for the world's greatest bug circus!"
  • Cars:
    • "Ladies and gentle[92]..."
    • "His [93] is showing."
    • "Float like a [94], sting like a [95]."
    • [96] tipping.
    • RustEze Medicated [97] Ointment.
    • "The loser will be stripped of all modifications and become... ...[98]"

Films — Live-Action

  • Planet of the Apes:
    • "[99] see, [100] do."
    • Considering that the whole franchise was a commentary about racism, you can't forget a line like "The only good [101] is a DEAD [102]"
  • Alexander manages to naturally do this, replacing phrases like "By God!" with "By Zeus!" or "In the name of the Gods!" instead of the singular, and other such things using ancient Greek-era things in place of more modern phrases and outbursts. A few times, it tends to get too clunky and usual, with things like "By Athena's Justice, this girl has spirit" that tend to be less artificial and more sticking out like a sore thumb.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country had one of the military men threaten that if the Klingons declared war, "we'd clean their [103]"
  • At the climax of Oh God You Devil, when the Devil (George Burns) loses his nerve in a poker showdown with God (also George Burns), God comments, "I put the fear of [104] into you."
  • Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Had Kirk mentioning "Moon over Rigel-7" as a potential campfire sing-along. When this movie was later riffed, Mike Nelson and Kevin Murphy mocked the use of this trope with such song titles as I Left My Heart On Tau Ceti Five and I Have Thirteen Eyes For You.
  • Lord of the Rings "As the Nazgûl flies."
    • Justified, since they are actually talking about Nazgûl flying there.



 Wedge: [after a very agreeable breakup, and having said that he hopes she'll still consider him a friend] "Meaning you can still call on me. Send me messages. Send me [155] presents."

    • "These guys went through the estate's defenses easier than [156]."
    • It's not the work of [157] but it beats bare walls.
    • Less chance than a [158] [159]
    • If one person calls you [160] laugh it off. If two people call you [161] start to wonder. If three people call you [162] [163] (Stackpole invents a lot of these.)
    • You look like something the [164] dragged in.
    • How many Corellians does it take to change a [165]
      • None. If the Light's out you can't see them cheating at [166]
    • Speaking of which, there's no such thing as a "poker face". Instead, you'd have a "Sabacc face".
    • She took to it like a [167] to [168]
      • That one is strange, since they do have ducks. And water.
        • And because not all sarlaccs live in deserts.
    • If [169]
    • This looks like a [170]-run.
      • Also used: a "blue milk-run".
    • Stick the [171] in and [172]
    • The airspeeder dropped like a [173]
      • The same character a few pages later said the same speeder "dropped like a rock", so "freefalling Hutt" was probably just for color.
    • As the smugglers say, we were putting all our [174] in one [175].
    • Don't [176].
    • I get the [177].
    • I'll walk away, shedding my crimes like a [178] sheds its skin.
      • In that case it was deliberate — a criminal offered to hand over some crucial info in exchange for immunity from prosecution, money, and a way off planet, and was amused when an old enemy was sent to pick him up. He knew she needed the info and was too honorable to go against the deal, so he used this phrase to remind her that he had let the Trandoshan who had murdered a friend walk free.
    • This really came out of the [179]
      • Alternately, it came out of the black, as in deep space.
    • "Like a [180] through [181]"
      • A similar but less arbitrary example from one of the Young Jedi Knights books: Lando says that a certain diamond drill can cut through durasteel just as easily as a laser can cut through Sullustan jam.
    • A particularly egregious one: What time is it when an [182] steps on your [183] Time to get a new [184]
    • Wedge Antilles is said to have ice water in his veins and cold-space lubricants for blood.
    • "And then ask yourself if that doesn't make you look a bit like a [185]."
  • The Redwall books love these. Some examples include "the [186] calling the [187]" and "I'll bet you an apple to an acorn" (the equivalent of "dollars to donuts").
    • "If wishes were [188]" (Also many creative insults, the best being "If brains were bread you'd have starved to death before you were born!")
    • "There's more than one way of [189]" Weird, you'd think Ferahgo would love to talk about skinning things...
  • From The Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross, we have "Never bring a [190] to [191]", and the ReMastered philosophy "[192] them all, [193] will know [194] own".
  • The Hollows has several, such as "You look like the [195]"
  • Lots in the Star Trek Novel Verse:
    • Like a [196] out of [197] (Klingon)
    • "If life hands you [198] you've got to make [199]" (Ferengi)
    • "Played me like a [200]" (Trill)
    • "The [201] share", and "like [202] in an alley." (Both Romulan)
    • "The [203] that broke the [204].(Human colonists on Deneva)
    • "If Ice Bores kill your Ailicorne, make Ailicorne steaks". (Andorian). There are also the Andorian axioms "Absence makes the heart forget" and "What goes around comes around...but with a sharper knife".
    • The Ferengi morality tale of "The Boy Who Cried Audit"
    • "Like Honge on fresh meat" (Cardassian). Also the Cardassian saying "the enemy of my enemy is also my enemy, but may prove useful".
    • "Sap and fog", for when Nasats are being dismissive.
    • "Screw with the Mugato, you're getting the horn".
    • "In a Tribble's eye!" (Which didn't need to be said, because McCoy uses the phrase "In a pig's eye!" in the original series).
  • Dragaera: In the book Issola, Lady Teldra makes a reference to Vlad engaging in "gray humor". This is the equivalent of what we would call "black humor"- the difference is that in the series, black is the color of magic and gray is the color of death.
    • They also have "how many X does it take to sharpen a sword?" instead of Light Bulb Jokes.
  • Warrior Cats does this quite a bit.
  • A clever and appropriate use in Robert Heinlen's Starship Troopers novel, "...on the bounce." Its meaning ranges from along the lines of 'don't waste time' to 'stay alert', depending on the context it's used in.
  • Rosalie hisses "Over my pile of ashes" in Breaking Dawn.
  • In Insurrection (War of the Spider Queen series) one drow said "putting the cart before the lizard".
  • In Safehold, "kill the [219] that [220] the golden [221]."
    • Fridge Logic: But why would you kill the wyvern out of greed? Does it puke up the rabbit after fetching it? And they have chickens on Safehold, so why not geese? Why not just use another bird in place of the goose? Arrgh!
    • Also, "between the [222] and the deep blue sea."
  • The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov: "built like a [223]." (If you're wondering about the practicality of a force-field latrine, note that that's the point of the original metaphor.)
  • The Automatic Detective loves this trope - among others, Mack, as narrator, once says that "Grey had me by the [224]", and use of "exhaust port" (as per the Transformers example) is a common stand-in for "ass" in all manner of expressions.
  • Guardians of Ga'Hoole does this a few times. Most common is the use of 'gizzard' in place of things like 'know in my heart' or 'bad feeling in my gut'.
    • "Are you [225]"?
    • "Racdrops" is a common swear, short for 'raccoon droppings'.
    • "Glaux" is used in place of "God" ie "Great Glaux!".
  • H. Beam Piper: one book replaced "hot knife" and "butter" with "fast neutrons" and "toilet paper".

Live-Action TV

  • Charles Dickens in Doctor Who: "What the [226]"
    • Oddly enough, the phrase "what the dickens" actually appears in Shakespeare's writing and has nothing to do with the author Dickens at all ("the dickens" = "the Devil"), but it would be even odder for Charles Dickens to say "what the dickens".
  • Star Trek: Voyager has "I didn't want to be a third [227]" (Ships in Star Trek almost always have an even number of warp nacelles, usually 2)
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Amok Time" has one whose mundane equivalent isn't very common: "He's as tight-lipped as [228]."
  • Babylon 5 does this when Ivanova says to Sheridan, "What am I, chopped [229]?" ("Lines of Communication")
  • In The Suite Life On Deck: "Well I guess we're both up [230] without a paddle!

Tabletop Games


Video Games

  • The Fable series:
    • Just wait a Skorm-damn minute, you!
  • The Discworld game:

 Sleazy Guy: Care to buy [233]

Rincewind: Where'd you get those?

Sleazy Guy: Fell off the back of a [234] sir!

  • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass: Is Linebeck shaking over there?! He's such a [235]!
  • Wakka instructs Tidus over the course of Final Fantasy X to hold his chocobos. The Chocoboy of Final Fantasy VIII instructed Squall to do the same.
  • Zork: Grand Inquisitor has several characters exclaim "Holy Hungus!" and/or "Sweet Yoruk!"
  • Mass Effect 2 features an advertisement for a movie about "Blasto, the first hanar Spectre", whose trademark phrases are "This one has no time for your solid waste excretions" and "Enkindle THIS!"
    • When you first meet Legion, Tali mentions that a single geth would have no more intelligence than a wild varren. It makes more sense since varren are basically Space Dogs, and 99% of the characters, humans included, probably never saw a real life dog before.
    • Quarians in general use the term "Kee'lah" in place of "God" [237], and "Kee'lah se'lai" is said at the end of certain discussions, including the hearing in front of the admiralty board. Replace it with "God be with you", and it's a perfect fit.
      • Mass Effect 3 reveals it to effectively mean "The homeworld which I shall one day see.", which is similar, given how mythical their homeworld is to the Quarians by this point.
  • Dwarven curses in the Dragon Age setting include "Go take a long breath out of a short shaft," which from context and phrasing probably means "Go die in a hole."
    • It might be a modification of "go take a long walk off a short pier", basically, "shut up" or "go f*ck yourself".
    • They also use "Nug-humping" where a modern person would probably use "Motherfucking."
    • In addition, there's the phrase "by the maker", as well as a few references to Andraste throughout both games.
  • The Mega Man Battle Network series has quite a few of these, primarily in the first three games, where the translators were using Woolseyisms:
    • "I was [238] ready!"
    • "You scared me half to [239]"
    • "Prepare to meet your [240]"
  • All over the place in Homeworld: Cataclysm. Some are reasonable, some are quite grating.

 Kuun-Lan Fleet Command(agitated): Join the [241]!


Web Comics

  • Footloose: "You've got about as much chance as [267]"
  • The webcomic Skin Deep has at least one: "What's got your [268]" (oddly enough, said to someone who doesn't have feathers.)
  • Vexxarr gives us this version.
  • "I'm such a plague-head!" from My Milk Toof.
  • Digger
    • "Hold your [269] I'm coming."
    • "Never laid [270]on one before."
    • "I don't give a [271]"
    • "Don't [272] the messenger."
    • " I'll make him regret the day he [273]
  • Our Little Adventure has a few:
    • "For the love of the gods" replacing "For the love of God"
    • "For Stellina's sake!" replacing "For Christ's sake!"
    • "What in the three hells" replacing "What the hell"
    • "What on Manjulias" replacing "What on Earth" (at least when the creator remembers to change it.)
  • Homestuck plays this for laughs with the trolls, as part of the Expospeak Gag that is their biology and culture:
    • "You can glub [274]."
    • Karkat explaining a troll romance novel "THEIR DYNAMIC IS THE [275] OF THE OVERALL ARC."

Web Original

Western Animation


 Triton: What [277] is going on?!


Real Life

  • There was a story in Reader's Digest about a student of medieval history who explained she was far too busy to do something by saying "I've just got too much on my [312]."
  1. ass
  2. destined
  3. Mind
  4. babies
  5. foot
  6. grave
  7. parents!
  8. dead fingers
  9. eyes!
  10. package
  11. cocks
  12. hands!
  13. ass!
  14. ass?
  15. ass!
  16. ass!
  17. ass!
  18. ass!
  19. shirts?
  20. Brass balls.
  21. horses,
  22. T-shirt
  23. children
  24. Christmas.
  25. BS!
  26. Kansas
  27. ears.
  28. birds
  29. boot's
  30. horses
  31. horse
  32. pig
  33. pigs
  34. monkey's
  35. doctor
  36. eating.
  37. horses
  38. GOD!
  39. God!
  40. God!
  41. gun/bitch
  42. glass
  43. man
  44. two
  45. goose
  46. plane
  47. coffee.
  48. Thomas.
  49. bitch!
  50. hat,
  51. knock
  52. door.
  53. New York
  54. Heavens/Hell!
  55. an oil painting?
  56. watch?
  57. God
  58. Apple.
  59. pants
  60. 9-1-1!
  61. Canada!
  62. ambulance
  63. New York
  64. feet
  65. chicken!
  66. walk
  67. grass
  68. lawn!
  69. feet
  70. hands!
  71. hand.
  72. horse.
  73. blood
  74. day.
  75. pissed
  76. corn flakes?
  77. mouth
  78. leg!
  79. ass
  80. streets
  81. crime!
  82. English,
  83. English.
  84. bitch!
  85. breath.
  86. shoe
  87. men!
  88. Children
  89. ages!
  90. Put
  91. hands
  92. men
  93. underwear
  94. butterfly
  95. bee (a Beamer is a common nickname for a BMW)
  96. cow
  97. lip
  98. naked
  99. Monkey
  100. monkey
  101. Indian
  102. Indian!
  103. clocks.
  104. God
  105. snowball's
  106. hell.
  107. horses!
  108. knickers
  109. twist?
  110. milk.
  111. pigeons
  112. cat.
  113. sheep
  114. a lamb.
  115. truck.
  116. bitch!
  117. gentlemen
  118. leg.
  119. horse.
  120. chicken
  121. egg?
  122. pound
  123. penny
  124. buy
  125. a lorry
  126. apeshit.
  127. bishop
  128. actress.
  129. shit
  130. shit,
  131. T-shirt.
  132. cannon.
  133. shit creek
  134. bear shit
  135. a bicycle
  136. shit
  137. fan.
  138. light bulb?
  139. French
  140. Scotch
  141. Christmas!
  142. gas!
  143. dawn
  144. tin
  145. scot
  146. cat
  147. cream
  148. day
  149. frying pan
  150. fire.
  151. Devil's
  152. Devil
  153. Devil you don't.
  154. grass
  155. Christmas
  156. joke about cheap food of any kind / hot knife through butter
  157. Rembrandt,
  158. snowflake
  159. in Hell.
  160. drunk,
  161. drunk,
  162. drunk,
  163. go home and lie down.
  164. cat
  165. lightbulb?
  166. poker.
  167. duck
  168. water.
  169. it weren't for bad luck, we'd have no luck at all.
  170. milk
  171. knife
  172. twist it.
  173. rock.
  174. eggs
  175. basket
  176. go there
  177. picture
  178. snake
  179. blue.
  180. hot knife
  181. butter.
  182. elephant
  183. wristwatch?
  184. wristwatch.
  185. horse's arse
  186. pot
  187. kettle black
  188. horses, beggars would ride.
  189. skinning a cat.
  190. knife
  191. a gun fight
  192. Kill
  193. God
  194. his
  195. cat who got the cream.
  196. bat
  197. hell.
  198. lemons,
  199. lemonade.
  200. violin.
  201. lion's
  202. cats
  203. straw
  204. camel's back"
  205. pigs
  206. cat!
  207. panties
  208. bunch.
  209. bullshit!
  210. dead meat!
  211. bark
  212. bite.
  213. birds
  214. stone,
  215. pissed
  216. Cheerios
  217. pound
  218. penny
  219. goose
  220. laid
  221. egg
  222. Devil
  223. brick outhouse
  224. balls
  225. crazy
  226. dickens?
  227. wheel.
  228. a clam
  229. a Minbari foodstuff
  230. shit creek
  231. Today,
  232. second
  233. a watch?
  234. truck,
  235. chicken
  236. a horse!
  237. though literally it's probably closer to "ancestors," given what the codex says about quarian religion.
  238. born
  239. death!
  240. maker!
  241. club
  242. Harry
  243. Draw?
  244. Queen?
  245. Texas
  246. Shoes,
  247. face
  248. ass!
  249. gun
  250. trigger
  251. cents,
  252. Heavens
  253. pants!
  254. ladies and gentlemen
  255. jury...
  256. penny
  257. money,
  258. Beauty
  259. bat
  260. problems.
  261. P,
  262. pool.
  263. body
  264. tomayto
  265. tomahto
  266. fingers to the bone
  267. Hinckley had with Foster.
  268. panties in a twist?
  269. horses,
  270. eyes
  271. rat's ass.
  272. shoot
  273. was born.
  274. to your heart's content
  275. bread and butter
  276. grounded
  277. on Earth
  278. cookie crumbles.
  279. Jehosephat!
  280. cookie crumbles.
  281. cotton
  282. dead
  283. cookie crumbles.
  284. record.
  285. nose
  286. fool!
  287. hell/heck?
  288. body
  289. wives'
  290. two
  291. nay-sayers
  292. man
  293. Ladies and gentlemen
  294. fuck
  295. hell/heck
  296. hand
  297. man!
  298. Mum's
  299. frying pan,
  300. fire!
  301. Grass
  302. moss!
  303. God
  304. God
  305. heck/hell/fuck
  306. God
  307. God's
  308. butt
  309. asses
  310. children
  311. children
  312. plate