Both What does "you're no rainbow-pooping unicorn" mean? and What does ‘If she’s a feminist, then I’m a T. Rex’ mean? have recently been highly up-voted questions with multiple highly up-voted answers, and lively comment discussions.

However, as I have observed, many of the answers fail to address that each is an example of some idiom, and only speak to the meaning of the specific example. One of them has already been marked as a duplicate, but what happens in the future when someone else asks for the meaning of one of these statements?

  • If X, then I'm the Queen of England.
  • If X, then I'm a monkey's uncle.
  • If X, then I'm a ham sandwich.
  • If X, then I'm an ocean liner.

Or for the other one:

  • You're no bowl of cherries.
  • You're no bouquet of roses.
  • You're no basket of puppies.
  • You're no angel.

I don't have a suggestion myself, but I would like to see some way of addressing questions like this as a class rather than an instance.

  • 7
    as a class rather than an instance - No need to look at your profile to see the software engineer bit. I agree with your point. Oct 14, 2015 at 14:08
  • 2
    So add those explanations to answers where you see them missing.
    – Mitch
    Oct 14, 2015 at 15:41
  • 3
    These formulas are called snowclones. I don't know if we have a tag for them, but we probably should. Oct 15, 2015 at 9:22
  • @curiousdannii: There is an existing tag called "idioms"
    – cobaltduck
    Oct 16, 2015 at 18:19
  • @cobaltduck Snowclones are not idioms. Or if the original is, then the derivative ones wouldn't be I think. Idioms are set phrases, whereas snowclones can be newly constructed but still recognisable because of the formula. Oct 16, 2015 at 22:22
  • From now on I will close similar questions as being a duplicate of this one: Origin of “he's 6 feet tall if he's an inch” (It covers "nearly" everything!)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Oct 24, 2015 at 4:07
  • @Mari-Lou: So far as I can see, there's no mention of snowclones anywhere on that "if he's an inch" page. And without taking account of that aspect, how would one make sense of "mixed snowclone" usages like Does the Pope shit in the woods! for emphatic agreement? Oct 24, 2015 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


I actually think that the rainbow-pooping unicorn question functions as a stand-alone question.

I am a native English speaker, and well aware of the idiom "you're no ###". I had absolutely no idea what "rainbow-pooping unicorn" meant. To me, that was the crux of the question, because at first glance it doesn't seem like a positive thing to be compared to. In fact, after reading the answers and understanding the phrase, I came to the conclusion that it was a poor simile to choose, and hence I completely understand the OP's difficulty in understanding the phrase.

Hence I don't think anything needs to be done based on that question specifically.

  • Well stated. Thank you for illuminating the opposing viewpoint.
    – cobaltduck
    Oct 24, 2015 at 11:59
  • I remain blissfully unaware of any "fairy tale" context justifying the idea that unicorns shit rainbows, but since you're well aware of the idiom "you're no ###" I don't see why you should have any trouble understanding the gist of the usage itself (one-off though it may be). Would you have the same problem with You're no golden-egg-laying goose? Quite possibly that version has never been used before either, but even though the literal meanings are different, in practice they'd probably be interchangeable in any context where either was "credible". Oct 24, 2015 at 17:02
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    @FumbleFingers - No I wouldn't have a problem with "golden-egg-laying goose", because I've heard of one of those before, and recognise it as being a precious object. I a) don't recognise a unicorn as being something massively desirable and b) don't recognise something described as "pooping" as being desirable.
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 9:13
  • Presumably you've never heard things like (He acts like) he shits gold (bricks). Not that adults like people like that, but bear in mind poop is something of a childish term anyway. And most children are brought up on fairy stories where unicorns, rainbows, and gold are invariably good things. Come to that, they're usually taught that pooping is a good thing (if they manage to do it in the potty on demand, rather than filling the nappy as and when! :) Oct 27, 2015 at 13:40
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    @FumbleFingers - I have indeed heard the phrase "he acts like he shits gold bricks". But if someone said "but in their eyes you're no gold-brick-shitter either" I would be horrendously confused. It would be a poor choice of phrasing because it doesn't convey something positive.
    – AndyT
    Oct 27, 2015 at 13:55

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