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"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?

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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
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
@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
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.

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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

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.

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protected by tchrist Dec 31 '12 at 0:34

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