Posted by RRC on November 09, 2005
In Reply to: Double-edged sword posted by Bob on November 09, 2005
: : 'Double-edged sword' - I've read various explanations as to the meaning of this idiom and of its origin, but I am of the opinion that the common understanding must be a corruption of any sensible meaning. As a method of using metaphor well, one should always create a mental image, and it is clear to me that having a double-edged sword in my hand allows a telling blow in two directions and is therefore a double advantage of harm:harm over a single-edged sword, not one producing the potential for opposite results i.e. harm:heal. We use the idiom 'mixed blessing' to identify something which has benefits and drawbacks concurrently, and I would like to persuade all to use this and make the use of 'double-edged sword' to mean 'two ways to be effective' I would also like many of the people who use words like 'enervate' and 'hoi polloi' together with all the other words which are assumed to mean one thing by presumed root or sound, but which mean the opposite, to look them !
: : up in a dictionary!
: You point about the sword is probably well-taken; unfortunately, hoi polloi won't listen.
A double-edged sword cuts both ways. While you're imagining, imagine the common scene in a movie where you hold someone down with a blade at their throat. Now the other person presses the knife away and it's at your throat...
Even when used "correctly", the phrase doesn't mean opposite results as in harm:heal, it means an advantage that can be turned upon the user as in harm you: harm me. RRC