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The Top 10: Expressions Used Only in the Negative

Find me someone who minces their words, challenged one of my contributors. Here is a list of similar phrases rescued from negativity

John Rentoul
Saturday 25 February 2017 12:14 GMT
These parsnips have definitely been buttered
These parsnips have definitely been buttered (Keith McDuffee)

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Louise Thomas

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Find me the man who minces his words, said Lloyd Bracey: he probably also suffers fools gladly. Here are 10 more negatives turned positive.

1. “I’ve tried to think of good examples to some avail,” said Roger Stevenson. But he thought this was only a mean feat.

2. Thank you for your nomination, John Peters, it will butter many parsnips (above).

3. Jonathan Isaby’s contributions to my Top 10s know some bounds.

4. Let us beat around the bush, said Daniel Forman, by using an old hunting metaphor.

5. This suggestion is a panacea that will solve all our problems.

6. Or it could be a silver bullet.

7. If you ask Roger Stevenson if he minds, he is likely to reply: “In the slightest.”

8. Greves would do things for all the tea in China. He would also look a gift horse in the mouth and thinks that there are places like home.

9. “I am a racist but I think foreigners add greatly to the sum of the nation’s happiness.” The sort of thing often heard by Generation X or Y.

10. Let us try to make the best the enemy of the good: another helpful suggestion from Daniel Forman.

I had several entries of the reck, feck and gruntled variety, but these were done in my Top 40 Lost Positives a while ago.

Next week: Actor-politicians (various nominations for Italian former porn stars not accepted)

Coming soon: Subjects on which otherwise sane people go a bit loopy, such as the royal yacht

The e-book of Listellany: A Miscellany of Very British Top Tens, From Politics to Pop is just £3.79. Your suggestions, and ideas for future Top 10s, in the comments please, or to me on Twitter, or by email to

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