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Potter-to my golden tongue

"This is pretty good. Someone should be writing this down. To my golden tongue!"(Sherman T. Potter in Commander Pierce)

Before there was a certain wizard, there were the original Potterisms from Colonel Sherman T. Potter.

These usually came in the form of unusual expressions and exclamations a response to what was happening at the 4077th MASH. At other times, the Potterisms would be in the form of paradoxical statements which contained nuggets of profound folk advise for his subordinates. So characteristic were these expressions that wherever the 4077th crew needed to impersonate him on the phone, they also needed to insert their own Potterisms to sound believable.

Collecting Potterisms has become a serious topic of research among fans of M*A*S*H. Some fans confess that they can hardly avoid saying "buffalo bagels" or "beaver biscuits" in exclamation. Other fans have produced memorabilia such as rugs and t-shirts featuring Potterisms.

This page intends to be a comprehensive collection of Potterisms. Please help add to it. But please limit this list to those witty phrases and the one or two sentence pieces of folk advise from Potter. There are other occasions when Potter would have an extended humorous dialogue with someone. Celebrate those under the memorable quotes section of the articles for the relevant episodes instead.

There are two tables. The first is for those characteristic short exclamations which you must learn if you want to imitate him on the phone. The second is for those longer pieces of advise and folk wisdom for those who may one day wish to study at the Sherman T. Potter School of Management.


Episode Context
Season 4
"Horse hockey!" Change of Command Dismissing a Klinger scam
"Horse hockey!" Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler Dismissing Frank's accusation that Hawkeye and B.J. must be up to some shenanigans
"Jumpin' jodhpurs" Of Moose and Men Trying to impress upon Col. Tucker that Hawkeye saved his life
"Sufferin' saddle soap!" Of Moose and Men Same as above
"That was the oyster's ice skates" The Price of Tomato Juice Praising the tomato juice Radar got for him
"Buffalo chips!" Dear Ma He has been hit by a sniper and Klinger tells him not to die
"Pig feathers!" Dear Ma He doesn't want to be anesthetized
Season 5
"Crock of beans!" Bug Out Dismissing rumor of bug-out--to Klinger
"That is grade-A, 100% bull cookies!" Bug Out Dismissing rumor of bug-out--this time to the whole camp
"...scuttlebutt is as common as cooties in your skivvies!" Bug Out Same as above
"If you aren't Klinger, who the Sam Hill are you?" Hawkeye Get Your Gun To Klinger who is dressed as Zoltan the gyosy king
"Radar, what is this cow flubdubbery?" The Most Unforgettable Characters On hearing Radar's duty log written in fancy prose
Season 6
"Road apples!!" Fade Out, Fade In, Part 2 Dismissing Schaeffer's demand for a review board for Klinger's Section 8
"the most bellicose barrel full of Bull Durham" Fallen Idol describing the way Hawkeye has blown up at Radar
"pimple on a flea" Fallen Idol that's how small Hawkeye has made Radar feel after the above
"This unit is running as smoothly as a pig on stilts" War of Nerves telling Sidney Freedman how poor the morale of the camp is
"Mule fritters!!" The Light That Failed On a shipment of hot weather supplies in the midst of winter
"Cow cookies! This is group is limp as a noodle! Your wonton is wilted!" The M*A*S*H Olympics On seeing how weak the members of the 4077th are
"Sweet Nefertiti!" The Grim Reaper Winchester collapses in the O.R.
"Sufferin' sheep dip!" The Smell of Music On the noise Winchester, Hawkeye and B.J. are making
"Well, zip-a-dee-doo-dah!" What's Up Doc? After hearing Margaret is pregnant
Season 7
"How's things in the 4-O-double-natural?" Commander Pierce In the game of craps, a dice roll of 7 is called a "natural". Hence 4-O-double-natural means 4077.
"Sweet Limburger!" Dear Comrade On sniffing Kwang's boiled tree bark preparation for treating rashes
"Shiverin' shinbones!" Out of Gas On the cold weather
"Who in the Sam Hill is that?" Out of Gas Winchester and Mulcahy return to the MASH in a beat up truck
"Aw, pony pucks!" Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys Discovers Flagg in his office
Season 8
"Well, if it isn't budget cuts, what in Sam Hill are you here for?" Are You Now, Margaret? About Williamson's purpose for visiting the MASH
"Pigeon pellets!" Good-Bye Radar: Part 1  Klinger can't get a generator for the camp
"What in the name of Sweet Fanny Adams happened here?" Period of Adjustment B.J. has just knocked Hawkeye out
"Now who in San Juan Hill is that?" Mr. and Mrs. Who? Arrival of Donna Marie Parker
"I feel like Snow White with a house full of sick dwarfs." The Yalu Brick Road He has to take care of a camp full of sick people by himself
"Mule muffins!" Yessir, That's Our Baby Winchester offers to accompany him to see a Korean official because of his superior dignity and sensitivity
"Who gives a rat's hat?" Bottle Fatigue Winchester is being too fussy about his choice of liquor
"Hang on to your homburg, Winchester Bottle Fatigue Potter is annoyed with Winchester for waking him in the middle of the night
"Buffalo bagels!" Old Soldiers When Klinger tells him everything is under control
"Who in the name of Annie's argyles are all these kids?" Old Soldiers Potter has just returned from Tokyo and meets all the kids who are in the camp
"Morale here is lower than a gopher's basement." Morale Victory Appointing B.J. and Hawkeye as morale officers
"Great balls of fire!" Goodbye, Cruel World Klinger has decorated the company office in his special style
"Jumpin' Jack Armstrong!" Back Pay Tells Hawkeye he cannot send the Army a bill.
"Bushwa!" April Fools He doesn't agree that the April Fool's Day has arrived. It is still March
"But just include me out. Understandez vous?" April Fools He was hoping that he wouldn't get pranked
"Holy hemostat!!" April Fools On reading that Col. Tucker is coming to inspect the MASH
"This an A-1, four-alarm, red, white and blue alert!" April Fools He wasn't enthusiastic about Col. Tucker coming to the 4077th
"Pierce, are you deef? I'm giving your hijinks the heave-ho, post haste!" April Fools On noticing that Hawkeye isn't listening to his orders
"What in the name of Marco Blessed Polo is going on here?!" April Fools Wondering what was going on out by Margaret's "tent"
"Oh, you're a peck of pips, all right!" April Fools Reprimanding the doctors and Margaret for continuing with their practical jokes against his orders
"Where in the name of Carrie's corset is your tent?" April Fools On discovering that Margaret's tent is missing
"You look like a furry Claudette Colbert." April Fools Finds Klinger in his Cleopatra outfit. Claudette Colbert played Cleopatra in a 1934 film.
Season 9
"Hot mustard!" The Best of Enemies On news that Mildred has won a bridge championship
"What in the Sam Hill?" The Best of Enemies Margaret has just called Winchester a pervert
"Beaver biscuits!" The Best of Enemies After losing a game of bridge
"Hot sausage!" Letters He has just broken the camp free-throws record
"What in the name of George Armstrong Custer do you think you're doing?" Your Retention, Please On seeing Klinger riding in like Lady Godiva
"Great Caesar's salad, Klinger!" No Sweat On discovering Klinger in the middle of the night taking apart the P.A. system.
"not going to be worth a hill of limas" No Sweat What he's going to be if he doesn't get enough sleep
"What in Hannah's hell have you done now?" The Red/White Blues He thinks Klinger has ordered the wrong medicine
"What in Samuel Hill hit this place?" The Red/White Blues On seeing the mess in his office
Season 10
"Hot damn!" Sons and Bowlers After having a good frame of bowling practice
Season 11
"Great Mother Macree! I think I'm going to die!" The Joker is Wild After getting pranked by B.J. Hunnicutt
"I suspect there's some 'cahootinizing' going on." Run for the Money About how Father Mulcahy made LeMasters throw the race
AfterM*A*S*H Season 1
"A family-sized sack of Minnesota marbles" Shall We Dance On Alma Cox's beliefs that certain books should be banned in the hospital.
Episode Context
Season 4
Season 5
"Listen, it's too big a world to be in competition with everybody else.

The only guy I have to get better than is who I am right now.

And in your case, that's tough enough."

Hepatitis Advice to Hawkeye who feels frustrated that an "incredibly average" former classmate is doing better than him.
Season 6
"That's more like it. Now you're fighting to stay alive, aren't you? The part of you that wants to stick around is stronger than the part that wants to end it all. Okay. Hang on to that." The Smell of Music Telling the suicidal soldier to stay alive
Season 7
"And I'm acting like one (like a commander), staying out of it till I'm needed. It's all in the timing, son. There's a time to step in and a time to back off." Commander Pierce On why he is not stepping in to stop the dispute between Hawkeye and B.J. even though he is the commander.
"Pull the reins too tight and the horse'll buck. You had good people under you. You should've let 'em go through their paces." Commander Pierce On how Pierce should have managed the unit in his absence.
"If you ain't where you are, you're no place." Dear Sis Advise to MASH crew to be content with their circumstances.
"Just remember, there's a right way and a wrong way to do everything. And the wrong way is to keep trying to make everybody else do it the right way." Inga Advise to Hawkeye when he can't get used to Inga taking the lead in the relationship.
Season 8
"You're like an unbroken colt, and all I can do is give you rein till you wear yourself out." Back Pay He knows there is no point ordering Hawkeye to return the jeep he has taken because he will just find some other way to protest. 
Season 9
"I've long suspected that one sure way to get this ornery bunch off their back pockets is to tell them that something can't be done. And without knowing I was doing it I found I was right." Cementing Relationships Commending the 4077th on laying their own cement floor for the operating room.

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