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King James Phrases

In the new year I'm planning on starting another blog - The King's English.  I want to blog on a phrase a day that has passed from the King James translation into common parlance (2011 is the 400th anniversary of the translation).

I'd like it to be as jargon-free as possible and aimed at non-Christians - though I hope Christians might find it nice and devotional.

Once I secure the right domain I'll let you have the link and if you can publicize it on your own blog / facebook / twitter I'd be really grateful.

I've whittled down the phrases to 365 below.  I'm sure I'm missing loads from the prophets and kings/chronicles.  But it's interesting that Jesus' words in the Gospels are at least half of all the Bible's quotable quotes!  Are there any glaring omissions you can spot?


OT Phrases

In the beginning

Let there be light

And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

Let us make man in our own image.

Be fruitful and multiply

It was very good

The garden of Eden


The breath of life

Tree of life

Forbidden fruit

It is not good that the man should be alone; (I will make him an help meet for him.)

Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

They were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

The two shall become one flesh

Pride cometh before a fall

How are the mighty fallen

Fig leaves

Dust to Dust... (Dust and Ashes)

Sweat of your brow



East of Eden

Adam knew Eve (Carnal knowledge)

Sin lieth at the door

Am I my brother’s keeper?

Mark of Cain

To call upon the name of the LORD


And he died  (Enoch walked with God)



My spirit shall not always strive with man

It grieved Him at His heart  (The earth was filled with violence)

Two by Two

Forty days and forty nights

Lo, in the dove’s mouth was an olive leaf

Covenant  (While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.)


Tower of Babel


Fear not

Lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him


Sodom and Gomorrah

Fire and brimstone

Jehovahjireh – the LORD will provide.

Jacob wrestled with God

Coat of many colours

the fat of the land (Gen 45:18)

ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good

A stranger in a strange land

Burning bush


Land flowing with milk and honey

Putting words in his mouth (Ex 4:15)


Bricks without straw

Let my people go

Plagues (of biblical proportions)

Hard hearted

Passover lamb

They were sore afraid

Red sea

The earth swallowed them up

Bread of heaven – Manna

I bare you on eagle’s wings (cf Is 40)

I am the LORD thy God which have brought thee out

Thou shalt have no other gods before me

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image

I the LORD thy God am a jealous God

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain

Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Honour thy father and thy mother

Thou shalt not kill

Thou shalt not commit adultery

Thou shalt not steal

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth

Golden Calf (“Out came this calf”)

Stiff necked

Face to face


Holy of Holies (“most holy place”)


Peace offering


Love thy neighbour as thyself

Bear their iniquity

Spy out the land

Wilderness wanderings (murmuring)

Brazen serpent

Balaam's Ass

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength

Thine eye shall have no pity

Man does not live by bread alone

The apple of his eye

Kiss of death

Be strong and courageous

Walls of Jericho


Samson and Delilah

Everyone did as they saw fit

Shelter under the wings (Ruth 2:12)


A man after his own heart


David and Bathsheba

Amazing Grace (1 Chronicles 17)

Wisdom of Solomon

The Queen of Sheba

Put your house in order

Carried away (exile)

The LORD gave and the LORD hath taken away (not “giveth and... taketh away”)

Job's Comforters

Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upwards

I am escaped with the skin of my teeth  (Skin and bone)

I know that my Redeemer liveth

Gird up thy loins (Job 38)

I repent in dust and ashes

Job died old and full of days

Blessed (is the Man)

Out of the mouths of babes (What is man?)

The heavens declare the glory of God

My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me

The LORD is my Shepherd

The valley of the shadow

My cup runneth over

The ends of the earth

Bite the dust

Three score year and ten

Strength to strength

As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field

Wits’ end

Praise the LORD

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart and lean not on thine own understanding

Soft answer turns away wrath

Spare the rod and spoil the child

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

To everything there is a season...

Nothing new under the sun

Eat drink and be merry

Fly in the ointment (Ecc 10:1)

A little bird told me (Ecc 10:20)

Cast thy bread upon the waters

Love is strong as death... many waters cannot quench love

It shall come to pass

Thus sayeth the LORD

White as snow (eg Is 1:18)

Beat swords into ploughshares

Woe is me


Unto Us a Child is Born

The wolf shall lie down with the lamb.

A drop in the bucket

Beast of burden

Led like a Lamb to the slaughter

Rise and shine

Bind up the broken-hearted

No rest for the wicked

Holier than thou

A new heavens and a new earth

Be horribly afraid (Jer 2:12)

Can a leopard change its spots? (Jer 13:23)


Great is thy faithfulness

Sour grapes (Ezek 18)

The writing is on the wall ("Weighed in the balances and found wanting")

Daniel in the lion’s den

Sackcloth and ashes (eg Jonah 3)

The desire of all nations


Christmas Phrases

Thou shalt call his name JESUS: (for he shall save his people from their sins.)

Hail, thou that art highly favoured, (the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.)

My soul doth magnify the Lord

wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. ...

For mine eyes have seen thy salvation

There came wise men from the east

They presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.



Other Gospel Phrases

In the beginning was the Word

The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us

Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world

Water into wine

Baptism of fire

To fulfil all righteousness

The heavens were opened

It is written

Fishers of men

Preaching the gospel

Verily, verily I say unto thee

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Blessed are they that mourn

Blessed are the meek

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Great is your reward in heaven

The salt of the earth

The light of the world

Keep you light under a bushel

Jot and tittle

Ye have heard that it was said...  But I say unto you,

Hell fire

If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out... if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off

Let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay

Turn the other cheek

Go the extra mile

Love your enemies

Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth

Our Father which art in heaven

Hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation (but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.)

Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also

Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Take no thought for your life

Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Luke 12)

Consider the lilies of the field

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, (and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.)

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Casting pearls before swine.

Seek and ye shall find

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you

Strait and narrow

Sheep in wolves’ clothing

By their fruits ye shall know them

Built on sand

Outer darkness

Weeping and gnashing of teeth

Born again

God so loved the world...

The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

O ye of little faith.

Be of good cheer

This man blasphemeth

They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. (Luke 5:31)

A house divided against itself cannot stand

I send you forth as lambs among wolves. (Luke 10:3)

Wise as serpents, innocent as doves

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.

He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

My name is Legion, for we are many

Good Samaritan

Go and do thou likewise

Friend of sinners

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.


Seed falling on stony ground

Wheat and tares

Pearl of great price

A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

The head of John the Baptist.

A man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.(Luke 12)

highways and hedges (Luke 14:23)

Lost sheep

Prodigal son

The far country

Fatted calf

between us and you there is a great gulf fixed (Luke 16:26)

Moved with compassion

Feeding the 5000

I am the Bread of Life

He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

The crumbs under thy table “the crumbs which fall from their masters' table.”

Red sky at night

Signs of the times

The keys of the kingdom

Get thee behind me Satan

Taking up your cross

What is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?


Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

I am the Good Shepherd

What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Suffer little children, and forbid them not, (to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.)


It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.


The first shall be last and the last shall be first

Many are called, few are chosen

Jesus wept

Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.

Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's

Heavy burdens, grievous to be borne

Blind guides

Strain out a gnat and swallow a camel

Whited sepulchres

How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!

To catch him in his words.

Wars and rumours of wars


Well done, thou good and faithful servant

Sheep and goats

Washing the disciples’ feet

In my Father’s house are many mansions

I am the Vine, ye are the branches

Greater love hath no man than this

This is my body

This is my blood

Let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Betrayed with a kiss

Thirty pieces of silver

My kingdom is not of this world

What is truth?

Hail King of the Jews

Crucify him, crucify him. (Luke 23:21)

Pilate washed his hands

Crown of thorns

My God, My God why hast thou forsaken me

Father, forgive them they know not what they do (Luke 23:34)

It is finished

He gave up the ghost

He is not here, he is risen.

Doubting Thomas

Did not our heart burn within us (Luke 24:32)

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost



Rest of NT

The fruit of his loins

Cut to the heart

It is better to give than to receive

The wages of sin is death

Dearly beloved

The powers that be (Rom 13)

Stumbling block

All things to all men

Faith, hope and love.

Faith that can move mountains

Through a glass darkly

In the twinkling of an eye

O death where is thy sting

Suffer fools gladly

A thorn in the flesh

Let not the sun go down on your wrath

Bowels of mercies

A labour of love

Filthy lucre

Love of money is the root of all evil

Fought the good fight

Twoedged sword (Heb 4)

A multitude of sins (James 5:20)

God is love

Babylon the great is fallen



0 thoughts on “King James Phrases

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention King James Phrases: --

  2. Glen

    Hi Denise - and if only I'd gotten organised about this 6 months ago! 2011 is only 4 days away!

    Marc - I need to write up my proposal for the book this week (that'll be 24 chapters rather than 365!). But yes, pictures is a good idea for the blog.

    Thanks Bird Brain :)

  3. Peter Rose

    Hi Glen, great is thy faithfulness with your talents, this labour of love. By the Sweat of your brow this is very good. Although we won't meet face to face I hope the new blog, when it is written, will go from strength to strength and will alao be fruitful and multiply across Twitter and Facebook. I agree with the others you should write a book when it is finished. Praise the LORD

  4. Pingback: King James | Learning The Bible

  5. rich owen

    Read the following this evening in the kjv and thought of your blog:

    Give up the ghost - lamentations 1:19

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