There are some sayings that the world has adopted as common wisdom and we often throw them around. However there are some cases where these sayings have been truncated and in shortening them some of the meaning, or all of it, has been lost altogether. Some sayings when expanded to their full length mean quite the opposite of what we have come to believe they mean. I found some interesting ones we can have a look at today.
A jack of all trades is a master of none
We should all be familiar with this one. It is used to remind us that focusing our skills in a particular area is better than spreading ourselves thin across many areas. That’s a bit of conflict with the way the modern world is shaping up because we are required to have multiple skills to succeed. Well, it turns out the original saying had this in kind as the full saying goes “a jack of all trades is a master of none but still better than a master of one”. How’s that for perspective?
Curiosity killed the cat
Another saying of the cautionary kind. The point here is to warn us that if we go digging too deep for answers we may find ourselves in precarious situations. Its intent is not meant only for dangerous things, it can be applied to all things even harmless ones like finding out how to make that cocktail you love or food you love. It sometimes takes away the attraction to it. However, the full saying goes “curiosity killed the cat but satisfaction brought it back”. This simply means that finding out these things may break you for some time but will leave you wiser and stronger.
Blood is thicker than water
It’s not always truncation that leaves sayings meaning something else, sometimes it’s just translation or simplification. We have heard many times that blood is thicker than water meaning that allegiances such as family are stronger than acquaintances and friends. The saying in its proper syntax goes “the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb”. Derived from the time people would make blood oaths it means the polar opposite of what we use it for. It means the intentional bonds we create are stronger than our unintentional bonds and there is at least some truth to it.
Great minds think alike
I think this is the most frequently used saying on this list. “Great minds think alike” is often used when two people come to a similar conclusion or come up. with a similar idea. And it does make sense, good ideas and thoughts will tend to agree or converge. The only problem with this is we have half the saying. “Great minds think alike but fools seldom differ”. I think the guidance here is very simple, just because you agree with someone or a majority of a group does not automatically mean the idea or the minds behind the idea are great.
Starve a cold, feed a fever
I don’t blame anyone who is not familiar with this saying, it’s not one we commonly use. “Starve a cold, feed a fever” is taken to mean when dealing with the common cold the solution is in eating less while with a full-blown fever the advice is to eat more. The cold often if not always comes with a loss of appetite so it sounds like good advice. The true meaning of the saying is in its expanded form “if you starve a cold, you will feed a fever”. While taking the appropriate action doesn’t always feel like the right thing to do, it will save you a world of hurt. Something we can all attest to.
The proof is in the pudding
This saying is often used to explain that evidence of things or assertions exists. So one may go ahead and say the proof is in the pudding meaning there is evidence to prove their stance. This is a watering down of a saying that says “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”. This means that evidence is a result of experience and should not be taken for granted. Only those who eat the proverbial pudding can say if there is indeed proof in it.
I hope you learnt something from this today. Perhaps you know another saying that is often misused or misquoted. Would love to hear from you in the comments.