Questions tagged [aphorism]

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Looking for an aphorism/verse for "If you ask for less, you are more likely to receive it" (or the double inverse)

Looking for an aphorism/verse for the sentiment... If you ask for less, you are more likely to receive it ...in the context of luck or prayers being answered.
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1 vote
2 answers
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Is there a kind aphorism for someone who has made a mistake, been forgiven, but shouldn't be given responsibility?

I'm trying to explain a situation where a person has made a mistake. They have made up for their mistake. They have been forgiven. The wise boundary is not to give them responsibility for the area in ...
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3 votes
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The origin or rough timeframe for the quip about pouring piss out of a boot?

Okay: The line is characterizing someone as being so dumb that they could not pour piss out of a boot -- even if the instructions were written on the heel. Just a tremendously clever line and if it ...
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"... the day you find out why." [closed]

The Apocryphal Twain suggests that the oft-quoted aphorism : The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. is not, actually, attributable to Mark ...
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2 votes
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Aphorisms that use two words in reverse order [duplicate]

I've found aphorisms often that play on the meaning of two words and their interaction and was wondering what one might call them. An example is the PJ Harvey song name: The whore hustles and ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Who came up with "nothing propinks like propinquity"?

The Online Etymology Dictionary entry for the verb to approach references propinquity (NED, psychology, AHD, wiktionary) which contains a reference to an aphorism: late 14c., "nearness in ...
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14 votes
3 answers
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Origin of 'a rising tide lifts all boats'

'A rising tide lifts all boats' is a saying that has become more and more common in recent decades and is often used in economic and political contexts: The aphorism "a rising tide lifts all ...
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4 votes
4 answers
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Meaning of: "The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right"

This is a Mark Twain aphorism: The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. This is apparently intended to be easily understood, but the ...
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10 votes
2 answers
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Beggars on Horseback

Near the end of Book I, chapter 17 of Our Mutual Friend (1864), Charles Dickens writes: There are the beggars on horseback too, in another sense from the sense of the proverb. These are mounted and ...
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14 votes
5 answers
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Where does the phrase of "boredom punctuated by moments of terror" come from?

I have often seen war described as "interminable boredom punctuated by moments of terror," or some variant thereof. More recently, it seems that I have been hearing this phrase used to describe other ...
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8 votes
8 answers
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Meaning of "Butter is Gold in the Morning, Silver at Noon, and Lead at Night."

In his book A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs: Explain'd and Made Intelligible to the English (1721), James Kelly offers this interesting saying (page 74, #138): "Butter is Gold in the ...
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Phrase which describes falsely improving something

Is there an aphorism or proverb in English which describes attempting to improve something fundamentally flawed by dressing it with a lot of ornament?
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What is the name for the inverse of an aphorism

For example, given a common saying or sequence of words, like A picture is worth a thousand words One reverses the order and obtains A word is worth a thousand pictures Is there a name for ...
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4 answers
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Aphorism or not? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Difference between phrase and idiom Is there a name for phrases which without context (cultural, historic, etc.) would not be understandable. Such as "This is not my strong ...
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8 votes
4 answers
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Origin of the idiom "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts"?

I’m interested in the origin of the idiom: If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas. When was it first used? Is this the original idiom, or was there an older ...
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10 votes
6 answers
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Is there an aphorism for doing a self-defeating act?

Is there a witty turn of phrase that indicates one's performing an act that, in its doing, undermines, contravenes, or obviates itself? This question relates to a similar idea, but I have it in my ...
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8 votes
6 answers
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Origin of the phrases “third time’s the charm” and “third time lucky”?

What would the origin of the saying “Third time’s the charm”? I’ve also heard “third time lucky” used as well. Are these two expressions related to each other?
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8 votes
3 answers
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"Money for rope" ... meaning and derivation?

I was listening to John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" just now, and in it there's a recurring line: ". . . money for rope." I never thought about it much before, but it strikes me this has to ...
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