Proverbs and Phrases

Proverbs and Phrases

Written by Supernova

Jul 7, 2020

Proverbs are short sayings that give advice or warnings. Here are some well-known proverbs and phrases, their meanings and where they come from. You may be surprised by what you learn!

A bad hair day

An image of the proverb a bad hair day.

This is a day when everything seems to go wrong.

It was first used in the 1992 film ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’.

As mad as a hatter

An image of the proverb as mad as a hatter.

Someone is completely mad or crazy.

The phrase was first used in the early 19th century, long before Alice went to Wonderland!

When in Rome, do as the Romans do

An image of the proverb when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

It is polite to stick to the customs of a society when you are a visitor.

Christian Saints visited Rome in 390AD and adopted Roman customs to be respectful.

A skeleton in the closet

An image of the proverb a  skeleton in the closet.

This is when you hide something that is scandalous or shameful to you.

The phrase comes from the fact that doctors in the UK were not allowed to study dead bodies until a parliamentary Act in 1832. They studied the skeletons in secret!

The best way to eat an elephant in your path is to cut it up into little pieces

An image of the proverb the best way to eat an elephant in your path is to cut it up into little pieces.

The best way to find a solution to a big problem is to take it bit by bit.

This is a popular African proverb.

Only a fool tests the depth of the river with both feet

An image of the proverb only a fool tests the depth of the river with both feet.

Don’t just jump into a situation without thinking about it first.

This African proverb can be found in many African languages.

It is raining cats and dogs

An image of the proverb it is raining cats and dogs.

It is raining heavily.

In the 17th century, it never really rained pets! But this phrase was used when the rain fell so hard that debris and dead animals would wash into the streets.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

An image of the proverb don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift.

In 1546, John Heywood used this phrase that he found in a Latin text written by St. Jerome in 400 AD.

Supernova Issue 7.5 Spiders

This article first appeared in Supernova Volume 7.5
Words by Nadja Botha
Illustrations by Thejal Mathura

 

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