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Too good to be true

Posted by Baceseras on April 10, 2007

In Reply to: Too good to be true posted by Bob on April 05, 2007

: : : I suspect "it looks too good to be true" is an old phrase but just when did it get amended to "if it looks too good to be true, it probably is"?

: : The Oxford English Dictionary has found the phrase "too good to be true" from 1580. I don't know when it became, as you say, amended.
: : SS

: I'd guess 1581, since the word "too" makes the idea clear. Amending the explanation is just redundant.

News organizations, and the publicity departments of social service organizations, frequently warn the public about varieties of fraud, bad bargains, sharp practices, etc. Typically, they will conclude their message with the catch-all advice, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." Logically that should be "probably isn't" (i.e., it isn't true). However, the sense of the message gets across the way it is given. As the previous post noted, it's a redundant explanation, and the meaning is similar to caveat emptor.

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