Is there an English idiom that has the same meaning as "words without actions" or "mere ink on paper"? Especially in the field of economics.


7 Answers 7


Consider the phrase "Not worth the paper it's written/printed on."


Empty words and hot air may convey the same idea. Empty promises in economic policies.


Here are two other expressions, in addition to what others have mentioned:

  • S?he talks the talk, but s?he doesn't walk the walk.
  • Put your money where your mouth is.

Lip service. To pay lip service to something is to talk about it, but not actually do anything. Like politicians who talk about the state of the environment but do nothing concrete to improve it.



All hat, no cattle for the cowboy version


There is a popular acronym I particularly favor-

ATANA - All Talk And No Action

For economics maybe -

  • 'Great cry and little wool'
  • 'All Bark and No bite'.
  • 'All foam but no beer'

Several more are listed at:



All talk and no play.

Means that you will talk a big game but never follow-up on anything.

  • Not heard of that one, but I do know something similar "All talk and no action"
    – 7caifyi
    Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 21:04
  • @Poncho1234 - that is just a derivative. Same thing/meaning. Commented Apr 22, 2014 at 23:14

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