What an interesting question !
I've tried to go for phrases and expressions that are negative for
adult or children alike. I see Pink Freud has given you an excellent
answer about the effect of negative criticism on children, so
generally I won't go there, though there is an interesting article on
schools moving to prevent put-downs at:
Here are some phrases which are guaranteed put-downs in the same
spirit as the phrases you quote - putting somebody off doing something
they are planning to do, or belittling their ambitions to other
The first two are courtesy of my grandmother. In some cases, how it is said is all.
Be good, sweet maid, and let who will be clever.
You're so sharp you should be in the knifebox.
Just as well she's so clever, because of course she'll never marry.
Get real !
Come down to earth
You're (just) a dreamer
That's nothing but a pipe-dream
Take a good look at yourself
You've got to live in the real world.
Don't push the boat out too far.
Don't go out on a limb over that.
That's just a flight of fancy.
Come down off the mountain-top / out of the stratosphere.
Take a look at yourself.
You're away with the pixies.
You've no room to talk.
Who do you think you are ?
You don't want to do that
That's not very practical.
What do you think you're doing ?
She thinks she's the Queen (high-up celebrity of choice).
Call that music / art / clever.
Life wasn't meant to be easy. (Malcolm Fraser).
Nothing in life is free.
Face it , you're just ....
My uncle/cousin/friend tried that, and it didn't work in Boston etc.
You'll never make anything of yourself unless....
Traditional proverbs are another source of negative sayings. These are culled from:
These are the expressions that most parallel your examples :
A fool and his money are soon parted.
All good things must come to an end.
All that glitters is not gold.
As soon as man is born he begins to die.
Beauty is only skin-deep.
Beggars can't be choosers.
Easier said than done.
Every man is his own worst enemy.
Fear is stronger than love.
It never rains, but it pours.
Jack of all trades, master of none.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall
There's no fool like an old fool.
There's one law for the rich, and another for the poor
They that dance must pay the fiddler. (He who pays the piper calls the tune.)
Trust is the mother of deceit.
contributes some more
On the site these are helpfully explained, the source given where
known, and they are translated into Swedish ! I've put them into
Close but no cigar
Cut one´s coat according to one´s cloth
Drift with the tide
Fizzle out / come to nothing
Have a screw loose
Ill weed grows apace
Pride goes before a fall
Swallow something hook, line and sinker
Take something with a pinch of salt
More obvious negative expressions include:
Anything that goes "You're stupid/silly/daft".
Anything that goes "Don't be stupid/silly/daft."
Re-tard. (Fatso, etc etc.)
Just look at your hair / fingernails / teeth !!!
What have you done to your hair / fingernails / teeth !
Where did you get that ?
I've seen bigger bananas. (I'm told this works well with the would-be
Only tarts wear high heels / fishnet stockings / whatever is
disapproved of. (Male variations may imply homosexuality eg: "that's a
bit pouffy" .)
That's your problem.
Shut up !
It's nothing to do with you.
You'll never amount to anything.
You're a pain.
All variations on: "He's a few shillings short of a quid"
(sandwiches/picnic, brick/outhouse etc.)
He's no Einstein.
She's no beauty queen. (Interesting cultural differentiation in those two !)
It's your fault that I ......
Look what you made me do !
Murphy's law is a way of life.
Life's a bitch, and then you die.
Live fast, die young..
More general negative expressions from
http://www.manythings.org/proverbs/ are below.
Note that some of these are not necessarily negative, it's just they
never seem to be used in any other context. "As you make your bed, so
you must lie in it" is one such example.
A bad penny always turns up.
As you make your bed, so must you lie in it.
As you sow, so shall you reap.
Ask no questions and hear no lies.
Bad news travels fast.
Birds of a feather flock together.
Curiosity killed the cat.
Dead men have no friends.
Dead men tell no tales.
Give him an inch and he'll take a yard. (an ell).
Mind your own business.
People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
Spare the rod and spoil the child..
Speak when you're spoken to.
There's no smoke without fire.
Two is company, three is a crowd.
You can't please everyone.
You can't take it with you when you go.
You don't get something for nothing.
A miss is as good as a mile
A wolf in sheep´s clothing
Add insult to injury
Appearances are deceptive
Be tarred with the same brush
Be a thorn in somebody´s side
Catch somebody red-handed
Get a dose of one´s own medicine
Have to eat humble pie
In for a penny, in for a pound
Not for all the tea in China
Out of the frying-pan into the fire
Put a spoke in somebody´s wheel
Rub salt into somebody´s wounds
Strain at a gnat and swallow a camel
Talk about the devil
Throw in the towel
You cannot teach an old dog new tricks
Brain Candy have a great Insults Collection at:
These are not in common use, but are funny; eg"
"Has the IQ of lint."
"Talk is cheap, but so are you."
There are more at:
but this time as well as the made-up insults, they include gems such as:
"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full.- Henry Kissinger"
"A fellow with the inventiveness of Albert Einstein, but with the
attention span of Daffy Duck. - Tom Shale on Robin Williams"
"He had the compassion of an icicle and the generosity of a
pawnbroker.- S J Perelman on Groucho Marx"
I hope there are a few here that you haven't come across before, and
that the ordering is helpful.
If I come across any more I'll add them.
"Proverbs and sayings".
"negative expressions" - which mostly yielded linguistic results.