When I first came across this expression, it made me want to question what I thought I already knew. The pope is catholic, right?
This should already be general knowledge so no one should have a problem answering the question. However, the question is not meant to be answered.
The expression, ‘Is the pope Catholic’, is more of an idiom than a question. You only hear this question when you have asked a question with an obvious answer.
Since the Pope is obviously Catholic, we use the expression to indirectly say that another question is obvious. For example, a person can ask ‘Is that really a new teacher in the school?’
In response to this question, another person can say ‘Is the Pope Catholic’. It is a way of emphasizing that the answer to a question is ‘Yes’.
An expression with the same meaning as “Is the pope Catholic” is ‘Do bears sh*t in the woods?’ Some may say ’Does the pope sh*t in the woods?’
Both expressions are used to affirm another observation.
20 Similar Phrases to “Is the Pope Catholic”
- Of course
- Bashing the bishop.
- Without a doubt.
- When one pope dies, another takes over.
- When in Rome, act like the Romans
- Said the actress to the pope
- Right under one’s nose
- Of course not.
- As poor as a church mouse
- Is water wet?
- Cast the first stone
- Outpope the pope
- Is the sky blue?
- Plain as day
- More catholic than the pope
- Carry one’s cross.
- Turn a blind eye
- See you in church
- Sober as a priest.
- Church ain’t out till they quit singing
Here is a simple phrase you can say instead of asking the needless question, ‘Is the Pope Catholic’.
This is simple English so whoever you say this to will definitely understand. We can’t say the rhetorical question is less understandable.
When it is used in a conversation, there is a high chance that your listener will understand what you mean. It is an informal way of suggesting that a person is asking a needless or obvious question.
For example, you may be asked about something which you think anyone should be able to guess correctly. In response to this question, you can ask ‘Is the Pope Catholic’.
Your listener may initially wonder why you are asking the question that everyone is meant to know the answer to. Then he or she can realize what you are implying by your question.
‘Of course’ is a better option if you want to be as polite as possible.
Bashing the bishop
If you have heard this idiom or you already know what it means, then you must be wondering how it has anything to do with ‘Emphatic YES’. If you don’t know this idiom, you just may be surprised.
It doesn’t have the same meaning as the rhetorical question but it does have the mention of a ‘Catholic’ word. You would expect an idiom with ‘Bishop’ to have a holy meaning. This one breaks the rule if there’s any.
‘Bashing the bishop’ refers to the abominable act of rubbing one out. It’s not a topic everyone discusses often so you may not get to use this idiom in your conversations.
Just in case you don’t know what it means to rub one out, it refers to the act of masturbation.
Without a doubt
Here is another simple way to say ‘Yes’ to a question that you believe has an obvious answer. Just like ‘Of course’, it will be very easy to understand.
It is also great if you don’t want to sound rude to whomever you are talking to.
Asking the rhetorical question may sound like an insult to the person you are talking to. You may feel tempted to use this if you think the question is just foolish.
However, you may only consider it if you are talking to a mate and when it’s a casual conversation.
If it’s an official conversation or you’re talking to someone you know you shouldn’t insult, just say ‘without a doubt’ or ‘of course’ and you are good to go.
When one pope dies, another takes over
Here is another idiom you may have heard of. It doesn’t share the same meaning with the rhetorical question.
The only similarity between the two idioms is the mention of ‘pope’. Asides from this, there is nothing similar about their meanings.
You may have guessed the meaning of this one. It refers to the continuity of life. Of course, when a pope dies, he gets replaced. Another pope has to be appointed to take his place.
The same applies to kings and presidents. It refers to virtually everyone around us. It doesn’t only refer to succession or political offices.
It simply means life continues and people move on. Once the president dies, he becomes the past president. A new president takes the position and ‘life moves on’.
When in Rome, act like the Romans
This is a popular idiom so you may have heard of it. You may even already know what it means. If you don’t, it’s only one observation away. It is quite simple to tell what it means.
When you are in time, you are told to act as the Romans do. This is meant literally. However, it doesn’t refer to ‘Rome’ and the ‘Romans’ alone.
People have different reactions when strangers do things in different ways and these different ways are often tagged as ‘weird’. In some places, what we consider ‘weird’ is normal and what we consider ‘normal’ is just absurd.
You can prevent this if you make yourself fit into whatever society you find yourself in. When you are in Italy, Africa, or wherever, just do things as the natives do.
Said the actress to the pope
This idiom is not a very popular one but you may have heard of it. Also, it only has the mention of ‘pope’ with no other similarity with the rhetorical question above.
‘Said the actress to the Pope’s is just a comment (or an interjection) used to bring out sensual innuendos from innocent statements. This happens often in our conversations, especially when we are flirting.
For example, a person may say ‘I hate coming early’. This sounds quite innocent to me. I don’t know about you.
When you respond by saying ‘said the actress to the Pope’, you are telling the speaker that the statement suggests something else even though that’s obviously not what he or she means.
We all know what it means to ‘come’ early. Not everyone likes that. A certain gender doesn’t.
Right under one’s nose
If you are looking for an idiom that can perfectly replace the rhetorical question above in a conversation, this may not be the perfect option but it is very similar.
‘Is the pope Catholic’ can be comfortably replaced by ‘Yes’ in a conversation. One may also say ‘Clearly’, that is the answer is obviously a ‘yes’.
When you say something is ‘right under one’s nose’, it means it should be obvious to the person. The two idioms cannot replace one another but they only have that similarity when we are talking about ‘obvious’ things.
Of course not
‘Of course’ is similar to ‘Is the Pope Catholic’. So is ‘Of course not’. However, this phrase can only be seen as the direct opposite of what the rhetorical question is used to imply.
When you ask the question ‘Is the Pope Catholic’, the expected (or unexpected) answer is ‘Yes’.
The rhetorical question is used to imply that everyone should know that the answer to your listener’s question is Yes, just as everyone knows that the Pope is definitely under the Catholic church. The same thing is implied when you say ‘Of course’.
When you say ‘Of course not’, it is almost the opposite of ‘Of course’ but both phrases refer to obvious things. The clear difference between the two phrases is that this one is simply used to say ‘No’ to a question.
As poor as a church mouse
Here is another use of a ‘holy’ word that doesn’t exactly have a similar meaning to the topic. As shown earlier, the use of ‘holy’ words does not always have holy implications.
Even in our daily conversations, many people already defile holy words, using them to imply things that are far from holy.
Idioms, as we all know, do not often mean what they sound like. Therefore, it’s understandable to have idioms that use holy words but figuratively mean something else.
This idiom is actually very easy to understand. It is simply used to compare a person’s financial status to that of a church mouse. How poor do you think a church mouse is?
A mouse is usually in places where it can have itself fed. However, a church is not one of the places you can expect to find a mouse. That’s because there is nothing to eat.
If by any chance, you find a mouse in a church, then you should show it mercy. It’s already starving.
Is water wet?
Has anyone ever asked you this question? Well, it’s an idiom, despite how stupid it sounds to you. If you consider this stupid, then you must think the same about ‘Is the Pope Catholic’.
These are questions that you believe everyone should know the answer to.
Before we proceed, do you think the water is wet? Of course, it is. If water is able to get things wet, then it has to be wet. Many of us consider this an obvious answer to the question.
This also makes many think the question is stupid and needless. However, on the other hand, it is an idiom used to imply that another question is stupid because the answer is ‘obviously yes’.
If a person asks you a question that you think should clearly be a ‘Yes’, you can respond with this rhetorical question.
Cast the first stone
This idiom was picked from the bible. You may already be familiar with the story. That should give you an idea of what the idiom means.
The phrase can be found in the book of John. The seventh verse in the eighth chapter. This is where a crowd had gathered to stone a woman to death.
She had been accused of adultery and was to be stoned to death as a punishment for her sins. Luckily for the woman, Jesus stepped in and spoke to the crowd saying ‘He who is without sin should be the first cast a stone’. On hearing this, they slowly dropped the stones and dispersed.
The idiom above refers to the act of judging or criticizing too quickly. Whoever is casting the first stone is blaming others or dishing punishments too quickly.
Outpope the pope
You may be wondering if ‘outpope’ is a word. You may not find this in the dictionary unless someone adds it quickly. However, this informal idiom is still very correct.
The use of ‘pope’ doesn’t mean it has anything to do with the pope, the Catholic church, or anything holy at all.
The idiom is used to refer to an act of pretense that is taken further than required. For example, you can try to mix in with a set of people by acting like you think they do.
However, while trying to act like others, you may take it way too far, in a way that is almost unbelievable.
When you say a person is outpoping the pope, he or she is taking his or her imitation too far.
Is the sky blue?
Here is another rhetorical question that may sound stupid. It may not always sound stupid but it just may not pass its meaning when it’s not sounding stupid. The sky is ‘often’ blue but it may not always appear blue.
The idiom means exactly the same thing as ‘Is the Pope Catholic’ and the same as ‘Is Water wet’. You can ask this rhetorical question as a way of saying ‘Yes’ to a question when you believe the answer should be obvious to the person asking.
Plain as day
Here is another idiom similar to the rhetorical question above. However, just like some other idioms on this list, it cannot be a perfect replacement in a conversation.
When you say something is plain as day, it means it is very clear to you. You are implying that what you are referring to is very obvious to you or to everyone. It is less rude in comparison to ‘Is the Pope Catholic’.
This doesn’t necessarily imply an ‘emphatic Yes’. It can also be an ‘Emphatic No’. It simply means the answer is clear.
You can say this to whoever is asking you a question. This should make the person say what he or she already thinks should be the answer.
More catholic than the pope
This is another way to say a person is outpoping the pope. If you don’t think you should use an ‘incorrect’ English word like ‘outpope’, then you can just use this expression instead. It is a bit more formal than saying ‘outpope the Pope’.
When you say a person is being more catholic than the pope, you are implying that he or she exaggerating his or her pretense.
There is only one Pope in the Catholic church around the world. We all know that. Whoever will be pretending to be the Pope has to act like it.
However, it becomes obvious when he starts taking things too seriously just to prove himself. While doing what SHOULD be done, the pretender fails to keep the pretense perfect by doing it exactly how it’s done.
Carry one’s cross
This is another idiom derived from the bible. It is a reference to the suffering of Christ and how he had to carry his cross to where he was crucified. Jesus had someone to help him carry the cross but he soon had to bear the burden all by himself.
When you tell a person to carry his or her cross, you are telling the person to bear his or her burden or responsibility. It often implies that you can’t help the person out or you are just choosing not to help.
Turn a blind eye
This idiom is also gotten from the bible. It is a very popular one so you may already know what it means, even without knowing where it was picked from.
When you turn a blind eye to something, you ignore it and act like you didn’t see it. It is often used to refer to carefree attitudes in situations that should be attended to.
See you in church
When a person says ‘see you church’, he or she may actually be referring to the church. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘church’. It could mean anywhere.
‘Church’, in this idiom, may be referring to any place where you are sure you both will be meeting again. It simply means you will be seeing the person ‘around’ or ‘nearby’.
Sober as a priest
This can also be ‘Sober as a judge’. It can have two different meanings. It may be used to refer to a reserved person. It may also refer to the opposite of drunkenness.
When you say you are sober as a judge, you are implying that you are not drunk. It may be a response if you are being asked if you are serious about what you have said earlier.
Church ain’t out till they quit singing
This simply means ‘It is not over till it is over’. When you say this, you are implying that there is still time to achieve something, even if it seems like there is no more time.
This is often used in sports. You can say this when a team is losing but the final whistle is not blown yet.