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In a nutshell

Posted by ESC on October 24, 2002

In Reply to: Stubborn as a mule posted by ESC on October 24, 2002

: : : : In my english class I have to write this paper on proverbs and back them up, either prove or disprove them. I am having the hardest time so if anybody has any ideas on how I could do this i would really appricate it.

: : : : Food for thought

: : : : In a nutshell

: : : : stubborn as a mule

: : : For starters, none of the three phrases you listed are actually proverbs. "Food for thought" is a metaphor. And the other two are what RBerg?

: : : A PROVERB is a piece of practical wisdom expressed in homely, concrete terms. For example: 'A closed mouth catches no flies.' (".synonymous with an ADAGE - is a short, popular saying that expresses a truth or insight; for example, 'a word to the wise is sufficient.") From When is a Pig a Hog?: A Guide to Confoundingly Related English Words by Bernice Randall (Galahad Books, New York, 1991).

: : : To disprove or back up a proverb, you'd have to discuss whether the "wisdom" is actually true.
: : Isn't that a simile? (Stubborn as a mule)

: I am ashamed to say I don't know. All my education drained out of my head. From these definitions, I don't think so. But don't go by me.

: Simile -- a figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by like or as (as in cheeks like roses). Metaphor -- a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them (as in drowning in money). Merriam-Webster online.
: FOOD FOR THOUGHT - "Something to ponder; a provocative idea. It is a classic metaphor: food is crucial for the body, and the mind works best when given things to chew on. Robert Southey wrote, in 'A Tale of Paraguay' : 'A lively tale, and fraught for thought.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

: STUBBORN (OBSTINATE) AS A MULE - "Ornery. 'With no good reason, the mule is a proverbial type of obstinacy,' the 'Oxford English Dictionary' says. Many a mule driver would dispute the statement. If a mule does not want to go, it takes a considerable effort to get it going. At any rate, the impression of mulish obstinacy is of long standing. Maria Edgeworth's 'Absentee' says: 'She was as obstinate as a mule on that point.'" From The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Ballantine Books, New York, 1985).

: IN A NUTSHELL - From the archives: Entry for "Nutshell", Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1898: "The Iliad in a nutshell. Pliny tells us that Cicero asserts that the whole Iliad was written on a piece of parchment which might be put into a nutshell. Lalanne describes, in his Curiosités Bibliographiques, an edition of Rochefoucault's Maxims, published by Didot in 1829, on pages one inch square, each page containing 26 lines, and each line 44 letters. Charles Toppan, of New York, engraved on a plate one-eighth of an inch square 12,000 letters. The Iliad contains 501,930 letters, and would therefore occupy 42 such plates engraved on both sides. Huet has proved by experiment that a parchment 27 by 21 centimètres would contain the entire Iliad, and such a parchment would go into a common-sized nut; but Mr. Toppan's engraving would get the whole Iliad into half that size. George P. Marsh says, in his Lectures, he has seen the entire Arabic Koran in a parchment roll four inches wide and half an inch in diameter. (See ILIAD.) 1
: To lie in a nutshell. To be explained in a few words; to be capable of easy solution."

OK. "Food for thought" is a metaphor. "Stubborn as a mule" is a simile. What is "in a nutshell?"

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