Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

"You know what thought did" is a catch-phrase addressed to someone who has just made a stupid mistake and attempted to excuse himself by saying "But I thought..."

Does anyone know the origin of this saying; in particular, does anyone know what thought actually did?

share|improve this question
16  
Wow, where have you heard this? I'm a native American-English speaker, and I've never heard that phrase before. –  Chris Dwyer Sep 6 '10 at 22:12
1  
Its origin seems to be British English. –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar Sep 6 '10 at 22:51
    
What does it mean? –  mmyers Sep 7 '10 at 0:45
4  
@Mehper C. Palavuzlar: I'm British English and I've never heard it before. –  Orbling Feb 23 '11 at 0:27
    
@Orbling: It may be a local saying. As I pointed out in my answer, it's seen in Lincolnshire traditional sayings. –  Mehper C. Palavuzlar Feb 23 '11 at 13:46
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

This was a common one in our house while I was growing up. The next line was "Followed a muck cart, and thought it was a wedding". I've no source, but a quick googling suggests we weren't the only ones.

share|improve this answer
    
The variant used by my mother (and apparently fairly common in Scotland and northern England) was "... planted a feather and thought it would grow into a hen". –  Kevin ORourke Jan 26 '11 at 15:03
add comment

The Dictionary of Catch Phrases states that the original form of "You know what thought did?" is:

What did thought do?

and was exemplified in 1738.

LADY ANS: I thought you did just now.
LORD SP: Pray, Madam, what did thought do?

It's also seen in Lincolnshire Traditional Sayings And Proverbial Expressions.

When a child says "I thought so and so" the adult may respond with, "You know what thought did? He only thought he did." A teenager, however, may reply, "Ah, but when he looked he had!" -a riposte which has the effect of counteracting the adult's attempt to control behaviour.

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by tchrist Dec 31 '12 at 0:34

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.