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Put two and two together

Posted by James Briggs on June 02, 2008 at 16:25

In Reply to: Put two and two together posted by pamela on June 02, 2008 at 06:02:

: : : Why 'put two and two together'? Why not 'put one and together' or any other simple number for that matter? Do you know the origin of this idiom and why it is with twos?

: : Interesting question. "Two and two make four" is a traditional choice for illustrating something elementary that everyone ought to know. A person who can't think clearly is described as not knowing that 2 + 2 = 4. A person who uses false logic (faulty arguments) to manipulate people is said to make 2 and 2 add up to 5. I don't know why 2 got the place of honor. Maybe 1 is *too* simple.

: : There's a British saying, "He doesn't know how many beans make five." Why 5?

: : Then there's "C-A-T spells 'cat,'" a similar use of one elementary bit of knowledge to represent elementary knowledge generally. The word could have been anything. T-H-E spells "the." ~rb (U.S.)

: There are about 4,000 google hits for "put 1 and 1 together" and 9,800 for "put one and one together". This is measly compared with the 86,000 for the "2" version and 760,000-odd for the "two" version, but it shows that some people have decided that putiing one and one together is even simpler than two and two. Pamela

How many beans make five? When I was young this was regarded as a trick question! The answer is 'a bean, a bean, a bean and a half, half a bean and a bean'.