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Popular Proverbs Interpreted

Updated on May 30, 2011
Oops! I thought I heard toucan.
Oops! I thought I heard toucan.

Popular Proverbs Interpreted

What is a proverb? It is a short and generally well-known over-used statement that provides a general truth or gives advice. Here's an example: "There's no fool like an old fool." Now this proverb is clearly ageist. What about young fools and middle-aged fools? So in the interest of clarification and to help Hubbers and Bloggers avoid these trite cliches, here are my singular interpretations of various ambiguous proverbs.

Two can live as cheaply as one. . . If one doesn’t eat.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. . . Isn’t that canceled by:”Out of sight, out of mind?”

All good things come to those who wait. . . Arthritis, heart disease, rheumatism, ddiabetes, clogged arteries, etc., etc.

All that glitters is not gold. . . It’s probably cubic zirconium.

Accidents will happen. . . Some people just refuse to take responsibility.

Actions speak louder than words. . . Words don’t speak. People speak.

All cats are grey in the dark. . . How do you know that if it’s dark?

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. . . But it feeds his family and pays the rent.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. . . So does failing to pay your doctor bill.

Your home is your castle. . . You wouldn’t say that if you had seen some of the homes I’ve seen.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. . . How do you measure either one?

Any time means no time. . . Same meaning as some time as in, “Call me some time.”

April showers bring May flowers. . . Also weeds and crabgrass.

A bird in hand is worth two in a bush. . . It can also be very messy.

A friend in need is a friend indeed. . . No, a friend in need is a pest.

A man is as old as he feels himself to be. . . Which part of himself is he feeling?

A new broom sweeps clean. . . Where can I buy one of those automatic new brooms?

One rotten apple spoils the barrel. . . What does it do? Buy all the other apples presents?

Better late than never. . . Unless it’s your wedding day.

Dead men tell no tales. . . How do we know? Would you stick around to listen?

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. . . And devoid of social companionship.

Keep your cotton-picking hands off my ears!
Keep your cotton-picking hands off my ears!

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. . . Why would you want to?

A man is known by the company he keeps. . . And in today’s world, most men wish the company would keep them.

Every cloud has a silver lining. . . You know this first-hand?

Experience is the father of wisdom. . . And the mother of judgment.

First come, first served. . . True at any crowded restaurant.

Great minds think alike. . . If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is really thinking.

He who hesitates is lost. . . Mae West said he who hesitates is last.

He laughs best who laughs last. . . And he who laughs, lasts.

Ignorance is bliss. . . How can it be bliss when ignorance is no excuse?

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is a king. . . And the two-eyed man is a god.

Knowledge is power. . . Amen!

Do not kill the goose that lays the golden egg. . . Find a gander for it, quickly.

Laughter is the best medicine. . . After you have taken your antibiotics.

Lightning never strikes in the same place twice . . It does In Florida.

Marry in haste, repent at leisure. . . Is that why they say “I do” is the longest sentence?

Money doesn't grow on trees. . . You won’t find any on bushes, shrubs or vines either.

Money is the root of all evil. . . Let’s plant some and really find out.

Never put off till tomorrow what can be done today. . . Don’t wait till tomorrow. Put it off today.

Nobody is perfect. . . Except thee and me. And sometimes I’m not so sure about thee.

One good turn deserves another. . . But one really good turn gets most of the blanket.

One man's trash is another man's treasure. . . The reason why flea markets are so popular.

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. . . Nor walk around undressed.

Snug as a bug in a rug. . . How do we know that a bug in a rug is snug? Has any bug told us so?

It takes so little to make me happy.
It takes so little to make me happy.

Laughable Stories

When the cat is away, the mice will play. . . Poker? Gin? Monopoly?

You are what you eat. . . I’m a chocolate bar?

Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me. . . Unless it’s slander; then I’ll sue you.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. . . Speak Italian?

A stitch in time saves nine. . . Saves nine what?

The end justifies the means. . . Sounds like the slogan of today’s Democrats .

The first step is the hardest. . . Especially if it’s over a cliff.

The pen is mightier than the sword. . . Unless you happen to be in a sword fight.

The truth is in the wine. . . But liquor is quicker (Ogden Nash).

There is a trick in every trade. . . And in every “red-light” district, too.

There is safety in numbers. . . Unless the numbers are enemies.

To err is human, to forgive divine. . . To forget, impossible.

Variety is the spice of life. . . Isn’t that a Mormon motto?

The walls have ears. . . Of course they do. They contain microphones and listening devices.

Where there's a will, there's a way. . . As well as a number of anxious heirs.

You can't teach an old dog new tricks. . . Au contraire. old dogs already know all the tricks.

You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. . . If you don’t mind, I would prefer a massage.

The early bird catches the worm. . . But it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.

Home is where the heart is. . . Isn’t that canceled by “Familiarity breeds contempt”?

Look before you leap. . . And always, always wear your parachute!

Loose lips sink ships. . . Torpedoes do a better job.

Copyright BJ Rakow Ph.D. 2010, 2011. All rights reserved Author, Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So.

Readers of my book say it enabled them to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview professionally, and negotiate assertively. Includes a must-read chapter for older workers.


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