Posted by Victoria S Dennis on October 25, 2005
In Reply to: Re: Don't cross the bridge... posted by Steve E on October 25, 2005
: : : : : Hi... can you please tell me what the proverb "don't cross that bridge until you get to it" means? And where does it come from? Thank you very much, from Will
: : : : It means, I think, that one shouldn't worry about things until they actually happen: a questionable piece of advice perhaps.
: : : : DFG
: : : David may be thinking of some undesirable events in recent history when he hears the phrase, but I think it is most often used appropriately. One can often find an excuse to sit on one's ass and do nothing because any kind of action could conceivably, possibly, in some future, result in undesirable ramifications. There must have been numerous decisions made or not made during the New Orleans disaster by non-feasant public servants that would have been better had their bosses or colleagues said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah, let's cross that bridge when we come to it." (I think the added emotional emphasis of "Yeah, yeah, yeah" would have helped spur these inert bodies to move. The meaning is "Yes, I've heard all that, or figured it out, but ...")
: : : Not too dissimilar in intent are the expressions "Don't borrow trouble," and "Let the dead bury their dead." SS
: : I usually see this stated more positively. "I will/you will/we will cross that bridge when we come to it."
: SS: I've heard of malfeasance and misfeasance, but cannot find non-feasant. Did you just now make this up to express that they did not display any 'feasance' at all?
The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs gives the earliest known use of this proverb by Longfellow in 1850. But he didn't invent it; he specifically called it a proverb. so it's older than that.