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Origins of proverbs

Posted by Henry on February 18, 2004

In Reply to: Origins of proverbs posted by Paola on February 18, 2004

: i'm learning English as a second language and i'm writing a little thesis about the origins of some proverbs. could you help me to find the origin of these proverbs?


Most proverbs are very old and their origin is lost in the mists of time. They generally represent common sense. However, their usefulness is limited because for every proverb, there is usually another one offering the opposite advice! For instance, "Look before you leap" is countered by "He who hesitates is lost".

Do you want comments on the meanings too?

: 1-Grasp all, lose all.
If you are greedy and try to take too much, you may not win anything.

: 2-You can't have your cake and eat it too
: 3-to kill two birds with one stone
To achieve two objectives by one effort.

: 4-There are two sides to every coin
: 5-A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

: 6-Clothes don't make the man
Don't judge by appearances. You can't tell a book by its cover.

: 7-Take it or leave it
: 8-There is nothing new under the sun

: 9-The mills of God grind slowly
This is taken from a poem by the American Poet H W Longfellow (1807-1882). He also wrote the poem The Song of Hiawatha.
"Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small;
Though with patience He stands waiting, with exactness grinds He all.
from Retribution, a translation of a work by Friedrich von Logau.
I understand this to mean that God may work slowly but he is very thorough. His judgement is inevitable.

: 10-To be over the moon

: 11-The grass is always greener on the other SIDE OF THE fence
The situation of your neighbour or friend always appears more comfortable and desirable than your own. However fortunate some people may be, they are never satisfied with their own possessions.

: 12-dressed to kill
: i'll be very grateful if you answer me tonight or tomorrow morning
: thanks very much and sorry for my english!!!!

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