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A word to the wise

Posted by Lewis on November 07, 2003

In Reply to: A word to the wise posted by Bob on November 07, 2003

: : : what exactly does this mean?

: : It is an expression used to politely give advice to somebody who may not like being told what to do. Somebody might say "A word to the wise..." in hushed or conspitatorial tone to somebody else.
: : The implication is that the hearer is regarded as already being "wise" and so the information is only to improve their judgment on a particular issue.

: : Often it is said before warning somebody of something unknown, obscured or semi-secret eg. "A word to the wise - Susan and John are no longer living under the same roof." or "A word to the wise - check out clause 4 of their contract" or "A word to the wise - you might like to consider ICI shares this month".

: A bit more explanation: the full version is "a word to the wise is sufficient" and the key word is "a." If you are wise, then it only take one word (this advice I'm giving you, for example) to steer you straight. It doesn't take repeated warnings and explanations. A word.

I tried to get over the warning context, but sorry to omit the use of it in a threatening manner too - as said, it can mean "I'm warning you once". I'd not ever heard the full expression used, but will remember in future. I've been told once, that should be enough.