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A watched pot never boils

Posted by ESC on May 28, 2005

In Reply to: A watched pot never boils posted by Smokey Stover on May 28, 2005

: : A watched pot never boils. What I have heard is that the expression meant somthing completly different when it came about, as it had one more word in it. The original expression was to ment to be one of caution not having to do with waiting rather to do with precaution - "A watched pot never boils OVER". Take the one word away and it takes on a whole new meaning. Just what I heard, could be true, could be B.S.

: I know nothing of the history of either of these expressions, but they present an interesting contrast. The short version says something that IS NOT true, and which encourages you not to bother watching your pot waiting for it to boil. The long version (with over) IS generally true, if you watch diligently, and appears to encourage you to keep your eyes on the pot. Which advice is more useful? Yes, I'm asking you, the people who boil things from time to time. SS

If you focus on one thing, it seems to take forever to happen.

From the archives:

WATCHED POT NEVER BOILS - "A pot will, in fact, boil even if you watch, but it will SEEM to take forever, and that is really the point of this amusing proverb. So if you must wait for something to happen, take your mind off the waiting by doing something else. It's amazing how much faster 'the pot' seems to reach a boil. As for the saying itself, the English novelist Elizabeth Gaskell first rendered it in 'Mary Barton' , giving the exact wording of the current version." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).