What is the origin of the expression "trying to catch a falling knife"? I have just read it and I wonder how it came up to be a common expression.
I'm not sure how common it is. (Sorry to profess ignorance, but I don't recall hearing it before).
When I Googled the phrase, I noticed almost all the links revolved around investing or finances. (Ah! No wonder a poor man like me hasn't heard it before...)
I thought this website explained it very well:
This site listed several investing cliches, including the falling knife expression, where it said:
A falling knife can land handle-side down (in which case it bounces), or blade-side down (in which case it sticks into the ground). If you're trying to catch the knife, and you catch the wrong end, you get hurt. Seems to be an apt metaphor.
The cliche is apparently well-used in investing circles. There's even a book with that title .
That said, I have no idea if its origins can be traced. It might just be one of those things that got uttered in the pit, and stuck.
The metaphoric usage shot to prominence in financial circles in the late 80s - here's a typical citation from the financial periodical The Bulletin, 1987
...but I don't think one should necessarily assume this means there ever was such a saying - it's probably just Johnston exercising artistic license.