In Reply to: Do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb? posted by Chris on June 05, 2008 at 04:34:
: Is the old saying "do you think the rain will hurt the rhubarb?" just small talk or does it have some other meaning. Everyone seems to have heard it, but no one seems to really know what it means. Some even know the answer: "not if it's in cans".
Its "other meaning" depends on the situation. As a stock phrase, it can be used to signify a deliberate turning to an innocuous topic of conversation (the weather) --- for instance when one doesn't wish to comment on a small social outrage or idiotism deemed to be apparent to anyone of sense. Instead of saying "I won't dignify that with a reply," one simply doesn't reply, but resorts openly to bland neutrality. It may be clssified as a sort of dry wit. - Bac.