I'm looking for an idiom to express my refusal for negotiations in a rather humorous way (if possible). In German there is "we're not on the bazaar" (literally translated), obviously relating to the bargaining done there. Is there an equivalent or other applicable idiom?

Thank you in advance.

  • 1
    Are you in the middle of negotiations and you have decided to pull out or is someone coming to you fresh and you are saying you don't wnt to start negotiations?
    – Mitch
    Aug 22, 2016 at 21:48
  • Though "Adamant" is not an idiom, It's a word that meets your situation.
    – R3D
    Aug 22, 2016 at 23:50
  • "Call the shots" and "play hardball" are two more.
    – Phil Sweet
    Aug 23, 2016 at 3:56
  • 1
    "Take it or leave it" is a common way to say you won't negotiate further. If you say it with a big smile, it might not sound quite so aggresive.
    – JHCL
    Aug 23, 2016 at 13:48

5 Answers 5


Reply to negotiator: "That's a showstopper" OR "That's a poison pill." Not tremendously funny though. :-)

How about "If you believe that, I've got a bridge to sell you." A popular way in the U.S. of expressing a belief that someone is gullible ... but it seems to fit here as a form of negotiating sarcasm.

Or how about "Really???", which translates to something like "You're kidding me, right???"

  • Bridge to sell you, presumably. Whatever would Nietzsche say?
    – deadrat
    Aug 23, 2016 at 1:44
  • 1
    @deadrat Fixed. Thanks. Nietzsche would say, "All great things bring about their own destruction through an act of self-overcoming." Cool name, deadrat. :-) Aug 23, 2016 at 2:00
  • If you believe that I've got a bridge to sell you. That's what I was looking for. Thank you very much - again, I lack the required reputation to upvote :/ Aug 23, 2016 at 9:07
  • @infinitezero No worries. It was a good question. Glad I could help. Aug 23, 2016 at 19:14
  • The answer is correct but it lacks context. The phrase means that someone is gullible. It is a reference to George C. Parker, an infamous conman who successfully duped his victims into “buying” the Brooklyn Bridge.
    – jsm
    May 14, 2023 at 8:21

There are some expressions having to do with a child's refusal to continue playing with others, such as:

I'm taking my ball and going home.

The situation would be children playing a game of, say football. The owner of the football becomes offended. By taking the ball home (and refusing to negotiate, despite the other children's pleading), he not only leaves the game but also forces the others to stop playing.


A British idiom might be "We're not going for beer and sandwiches."

Harold Wilson, when he was prime minister, actually invited union leaders to Number Ten to discuss the Winter of Discontent in the mid-Seventies, famously offering beer and sandwiches to fuel the negotiations.

The phrase resonated at the time and has a surprising longevity. It's cropped up again since:

BBC News 3 September 2003

It's a great headline for the Tories - the bad old days of union barons sharing beer and sandwiches with the prime minister in Downing Street are back.

BBC News 5 August 2015

Tube strike: no beer and sandwiches

With London's Tube network set for a 24-hour shutdown for the second time in a month, critics say Boris Johnson should be building bridges with the unions - but the days of resolving disputes while enjoying light refreshments appear to be over.

We are not in a time of beer and sandwiches. This is not the 1970s, when union barons and politicians shared snacks and hard talk at Number 10.

  • @infinitezero Don't forget you can upvote answers and accept them (although you might want to wait a bit longer). "Thank you" comments are frowned upon.
    – Andrew Leach
    Aug 22, 2016 at 21:58
  • I'm lacking the required reputation to upvote :/ Aug 22, 2016 at 22:12
  • I like it, but I'm not sure it is exactly idiomatic, and outside of the UK (and even inside depending on how informed the other party was) it might not be understood.
    – Spagirl
    Aug 23, 2016 at 13:24

You could say you echo the words of Russia's Andrei Gromyko at the UN in the 1940s ... Niet !

From https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrei_Gromyko

Gromyko often used the Soviet veto power on behalf of the Soviet Union in the early days of the United Nations. So familiar was a Soviet veto in the early days of the UN that Gromyko became known as Mr Nyet, literally meaning "Mr No". During the first 10 years of the UN, the Soviet Union used its veto 79 times. In the same period, the Republic of China used the veto once, France twice and the others not at all.


Similar to Rajah's answer, I've always heard: "I'm not going to play ball," which indicates one's refusal to do something in the way they've been asked.


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