Appalachia Sayings from Appalachia

Appalachian Sayings – Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Appalachian Sayings - Beggars Can't Be Choosers

I’m starving!

Here’s some grapes.

I wish I had something really good to eat.

Well, beggars can’t be choosers.


When I was young it was common for kids and adults to use the phrase¬†beggars can’t be choosers. Are you familiar with the saying?



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  • Reply
    July 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm

    I’ve heard all the sayings mentioned above. I remember my grandfather always saying “waste no want not”. I wonder how all these sayings apply today since a lot of people feel that they are entitled to things of their choice, even if they don’t work for it.

  • Reply
    Kim Campbell
    April 4, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Heard it and use it!

  • Reply
    Granny Norma
    April 1, 2015 at 11:30 am

    For some reason this saying makes me feel a little cranky. I must have heard it a thousand times over the years, mostly from sassy brats when I was a kid. It’s really old and probably universal among English speaking people. I was curious enough to look up the origin. It was first recorded in 1562. Also remember “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Grace is always in order when receiving a gift.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    O have I heard this one.. let me count the times.. On second thought, not enough time…

  • Reply
    Glynda P. Chambers
    March 31, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Tipper, well this is a familiar one, heard this from my Mama all my life growing up and still say it today all the time. Thanks

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I’ve heard that all my life. And
    I got to agree with Ed, about you
    being young…Ken

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    March 31, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    Oh, if I had a nickel…

  • Reply
    Peggy Lambert
    March 31, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    Heard it all my life and still say it when needed.

  • Reply
    Garland Davis
    March 31, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    Have heard it all my life all around the world.

  • Reply
    Cynthia Schoonover
    March 31, 2015 at 11:56 am

    I’ve heard this one all my life, and I still use it.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    March 31, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Yes & for some reason this brought to mind the saying, “If a bullfrog had wings, he wouldn’t bump his butt” & then ” If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”.

  • Reply
    Ann Applegarth
    March 31, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I still say it. In fact, I can’t think of another way to say exactly that.

  • Reply
    Carol Stuart
    March 31, 2015 at 10:41 am

    Have heard it and have used it all of my life!

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    March 31, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I have heard that saying my whole life!

  • Reply
    Mrs. K
    March 31, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Heard this all my life and still use it plenty!

  • Reply
    Sheila stone
    March 31, 2015 at 10:08 am

    couople friends of mine from around here have also said “people in hell want ice water”

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I always heard and said, “Beggars can’t be choosey.” I used it often with our daughter who seemed to never be satisfied with what was available for snacks.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 31, 2015 at 10:05 am

    What do you mean “when I was young?” If you’re not young, where does that put me?

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 10:02 am

    That was a common phrase especially when, as children, we wanted something we thought was special for us, but either it wasn’t available or we were being told to be satisfied with what was being offered. Good one!

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    March 31, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Indeed, I have heard the expression OFTEN in my childhood days! But somehow I did not associate “beggars” with poor folks in the mountains. I often heard the expression “We may be poor, but we are proud!” i.e. We are NOT BEGGARS!
    But when our dear Mother heard us claiming to be ‘proud’ she would quote a scripture from her Holy Bible about what happens to someone who is proud! So proud was not in our diction.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 9:01 am

    I’m very familiar with the saying. I try not to say I’m starving, just I’m hungry. I used to be so skinny I was afraid people would think I was actually starving. Now if I said I’m starving they would know better. Every two or three years I have to spend a couple months on Weight Watchers to get back to where I want to be.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    March 31, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I heard that “Beggars can’t be Choosers” and a variant, “Beggars can’t be Choosey” so I learned “Not to Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth.”

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    March 31, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Yes, heard this expression frequently as a kid and still on occasion.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 31, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Tipper–Momma used it regularly, usually when on of the children wanted something they either didn’t need of which the family couldn’t afford.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 31, 2015 at 7:15 am

    Oh yes, heard that one all my life!

  • Reply
    Barb Wright
    March 31, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Yes..I have heard that all of my life and still say it!

  • Reply
    Glynn Harris
    March 31, 2015 at 6:52 am

    Louisiana saying as well. Have heard it all my life.

  • Reply
    March 31, 2015 at 4:38 am


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