Proverbs are an important part of our oral traditions. They provide vivid imagery and give essence to our daily conversations. We use them often; sometimes without realizing it.
In a recent AskReddit thread, a user asked people “What proverb or saying has never made sense to you?” Here are some of the users’ best submissions.
[Source can be found at the end of the article]
“All’s fair in love and war.”
My exes would disagree with the former. The Geneva Conventions would disagree with the latter.
“Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.”
It’s literally impossible to literally do, but people use the phrase to motivate people?
“It’s always the last place you look.”
Obviously. Why the hell would I keep looking after I’ve found it?
“Slept like a baby” to describe a good night’s sleep.
Have you ever met a baby? They’re atrocious sleepers.
“The early bird gets the worm.”
There’s more than 1 worm. You can be a bit late. Also my answer to this is always “but the 2nd mouse gets the cheese.
“It’s all down hill from here” meaning everything starts falling apart.
I disagree and don’t use it this way.
Saying something is an uphill battle/struggle is bad because it’s hard to go up a hill.
Going down hill should mean something is easy, not falling apart.
I use it as meaning things will be easy from here and I will correct anyone who tries to correct me.
“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
Sounds like a pretty decent road. Hate to see the road made out of bad intentions.
“What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger.”
A stroke may not kill you but you sure won’t be stronger after it.
“Up a creek without a paddle.”
If you are currently up a creek and you don’t have a paddle, you just float down the creek… I don’t see the issue.
Now if the saying were “needing to get up a creek without a paddle,” that I could understand.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
No, that’s practice.
“I could care less.”
Meaning “I couldn’t care less” – ok so say that.
If you say I could care less that means there is still some care remaining. But what you mean is that you care so little about something that you literally couldn’t care less – so don’t say you could care less because that’s something different.
“It’s the same difference.”
My mom used to always use this when I was a kid to end arguments between my siblings and I. Maybe we just stopped arguing out of confusion?
“Blood is thicker than water,” annoys me.
Its the blood of the covenant vs the water of the womb… the “family” you choose is better than the one you were born into – the exact opposite meaning to how it’s thrown around today.
“The devil is beating his wife”
An old saying for when it rains while the sun is shining. I find this expression so creepy.
That quote some special snowflake girl has on their Facebook, “If you can’t handle me at my worst you don’t deserve me at my best.” Like, girl, your worst is trying to kill me for texting my sister and your best is burning the pasta and letting me starve for the night.
“You’re perfect just the way you are.”
No one’s perfect, and I think people should make a conscious effort to be aware of their flaws and shortcomings and work around them/work to change themselves for the better.
“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you’ll land amongst the stars.” No, the stars incomprehensibly further away than our moon is, our moon is literally the closest celestial body to earth… besides, if you miss a target during space travel, you’re probably dead.
“As much as the next person/guy.”
Who is this guy? Why am I comparing myself to them – not like I know the guy well enough to know whether he likes something as much as I do…
Never understood the phrase “lucked out.”
Seems like you’re saying you ran out of luck which I assume would imply something not positive.
When I wouldnt eat something, my parents would say, Think about the starving kids in Africa as motivation for me to eat more.
Being that I would see commercials on TV of poorer children digging through trash, I had always thought that by throwing my food away, I was giving it to them.
As a kid I never understood the “glass half full/empty” thing. Like I understood it was meant to be a visualization of your perspective on things, but I always thought if you were pouring water out of the glass you’d say “the glass is half empty” and if you were pouring water into it it was “the glass is half full”.
I’ve always overthought things.
“Were you raised in a barn? Close the door!” It doesn’t make sense. I grew up on a farm, and rule number one is to close the barn doors, else all your livestock gets out. Or worse, a predator gets in.
“A stitch in time saves nine.”
I get it now. But for the longest time I didn’t understand how or why anyone would apply a stitch to time. Time is a concept, not a tangible thing that you can physically mend with needle and thread. Also… who is “nine” and why would stitching time save them.
Then I realized the adage was saying, euphemistically:
One stitch in something which needs repair will prevent future degradation of the item in question, which would require more repair later.
My way of saying it is catchier… just saying.
“The world is your Oyster.”
The only thing that comes to mind is that you have to pry an oyster open, probably having a prolonged fight with a living rock, slicing your hand open in the process, only to then eat it alive? I’m not sure how this is a metaphor for endless opportunity.
“Success proves him right.”
(I don’t know if thats only a German thing to say.)
Sometimes people just get lucky. I once played a game of Catan with someone placing all of his buildings between tiles with numbers 2-4 because he thought the difference in probability wasn’t that big.
Then an incredible series of rolled fours won him the game but certainly didn’t prove him right.
To “know something better than the back of my hand.”
I really don’t look at the back of my hand that often, I look at the inside more if anything. Just look carefully at the back of your hand you might notice some imperfections you never knew were even there in the first place.
“Dropping the kids off at the pool.”
Apparently meaning taking a dump.
I always thought it would make more sense if it referred to pleasuring yourself into the toilet.
“Putting the cart before the horse.”
I used to think it was a welfare thing that had to do with taking care of the cart before the horse. Only recently realized it was about confusing cause and effect – putting or doing things in the wrong order.
So a while ago I had a little accident where I fell off a bike. It was kind of a funny story so I told it to some people. Several of which made a remark that went something like this: if you fall down, it’s important that you get back up… Which got me thinking… This saying does not even make sense… like what is an alternative? Is that even a choice you have to make? Oh my, I have fallen down, oh well, I guess this is my life now, laying down in the middle of a street, don’t mind me, this is where I live now…
My mum breaks out “It’s as (insert word here) as a witch’s teat” on the regular. She’ll switch between “It’s as dry as a witch’s teat” in summer, “I’m as dry as a witch’s teat” when thirsty, “It’s as cold as a witch’s tear” or “It’s as hot as a witch’s teat.”
I don’t know what witches she’s been hanging around with but she knows their teats well.
“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
Whomever said this needs a lesson in economics!
Let’s say the average lemon costs $0.20. Your average lemon yields about 30ml of juice give or take a few ml. To make a good lemonade, you need roughly equal parts water, sugar and lemon juice; so to make 2000ml of lemon juice, you need probably 20+ lemons – thats $4 without even factoring in the costs of the sugar and labour!
I can just waltz on down to the store and buy myself a jug of their home brand for half the price, and then spend the remaining money on bacon, or chocolate.
“Thicker than two short planks.”
This has genuinely, ironically, reduced me to tears because I just don’t get it. I mean, I get they’re saying that two planks are thicker than one, but why specifically two, why isn’t the saying three or ten or fifty? And who says the planks are thick? What if it’s balsa wood or something? It makes me so mad.
“Life is a gift.”
I don’t know if my experience has just been unfortunate or if other people just do their best to close their eyes and plug their ears telling themselves this is true. I honestly don’t get it. We spend 30% of our life sleeping. Then we spend a good 60% of it either in school or working and most of us end up working somewhere we honestly don’t want to be. Then we are left with like 10% for weekends to do things we actually enjoy.