POINT OF VIEW: Three Cats Short of a Horde

Warning/Disclaimer: In today’s column, I discuss phrases that are colorful synonyms for when someone is “crazy.” I want to distinguish this from mental illness, which is not what I am referring to. Instead, I am referring to people who espouse crazy ideas, often knowing they are not true.

Every good writer loves words. It’s an inherent part of the job, just like good lawyers love the law and good pilots love their planes. Words are an integral part of our trade, and we delight in the weird and wonderful nature of the language and enjoy twisting it around like warm pretzel dough to make new and wonderful confections for our readers.

A few years ago, one of my dearest friends, Joyce Akiyoshi, pointed out the “x short of y” construction, and said collecting the many examples would make a cool book. I’m not quite sure why, but that started me down the path of saving those expressions (and very similar ones) wherever I found them, and now I’m sharing my collection with you.

So without further ado, here you go:

“One brady short of a bunch.” – Life on Mars

“Two chairs short of a set.” –Gilmore Girls

“Short a few foals of a full herd.: –The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan

“A couple tacos short of a combo plate.” –citation needed

“One thermos short of a lunch box.” –Desperate Housewives

“That boy’s cheese done slid off his cracker.” –True Blood

“Missing a few fries from his Happy Meal.” –Americablog

“Your virtual weird wall has left you a pushpin short.” –Smallville

“Four quarts short of a gallon.” –Being Human

“One marching band short of a parade.” –Ellen

“An avocado short of a cobb salad.” –Hart of Dixie

“Three cats short of a horde.” –Bill Maher

“I don’t think her tree goes all the way to the top branch.” –Ice Age 2

“Two Corinthians short of a Bible.” –SNL

“One french fry short of a happy meal.” –RuPaul’s Drag Race

“A brick short of a load.” –CNN

“One banana short of a fruit salad. –Eli Stone

“Nuttier than a tree full of squirrels.” Will and Grace

“A few twists short of a slinky.” –Author Leigh Carman on Goodreads

“A few credits short of an advanced understanding of economics.” —CNN

“A few knights short of a crusade.” –Awkward

“One Beyonce short of a Destiny’s Child.” —RuPaul’s Drag

Have any of your own to add? Please note them below and cite the source, if you know it. 🙂 Have fun!

1 thought on “POINT OF VIEW: Three Cats Short of a Horde”

  1. One sandwich short of a picnic – possibly December 1987, Lenny Henry Christmas Special (also ‘One brick short of a load’ in the same song).

    However ‘Two sandwiches short of a picnic’ may have predated in by several months – Christopher Lloyd in ‘Walk Like a Man’, March 1987. Reportedly.

    There’s a bunch of others here: http://thedabbler.co.uk/2011/01/greens-dictionary-of-slang-mad/
    eventually (scan the first several paragraphs) including one from the 19th century. If you can stand it, the final paragraph amused me – I used to live in East Ham… (and one needs to be travelling west for the claim to make sense).

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