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Proverbs and Phrases You Might Be Saying Wrong

and the true meanings they have

By Cathryn DennisonPublished 3 years ago 4 min read

Yup, you’ve probably been saying most idioms or expressions wrong since you’ve learned about them. You’re definitely not alone there. One day, I got extremely curious as I was working on a few assignments for school, and when I researched one of these sayings only to discover it actually had a completely different meaning.

Sit back and see if you used any of these phrases when you thought they meant something else.

1. “An eye for an eye”; Gandhi

What we thought it means:

It is fair to do to others what they did to you. If someone stole from you, it’s okay to steal from them.

The full quote:

“An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”

What it actually means:

Revenge does no good, regardless of what is done to you. If you think about it, it is also an endless cycle that never ends; someone would constantly feel they have the right to keep taking it again and again and again.

2. “Money is the root of all evil”; the Bible

What we thought it means:

Everything that is wrong with the world is caused by money.

The full quote:

“The love of money is the root of all evil.”

What it actually means:

It is human greed for wealth that is the cause of all evil in the world. If you think about some cases where you might have used this phrase, you may find that the proper meaning was definitely more accurate; especially since it is a bit more difficult to put the blame on an object rather than a person.

3. “Great minds think alike”; a 17th-century proverb

What we thought it means:

Those who are smart often share the same ideas or thoughts, usually through a coincidence of something thinking similarly to your own thinking.

The full quote:

“Great minds think alike, though fools seldom differ.”

What it actually means:

The part that is left out, “fools seldom differ”, simply means that rather than moving forward when it comes to thinking, they stay the same. Another interpretation is that, rather than having a great mind because you and someone else came to the same conclusion, you’re both just fools. While this is the more popular of the two interpretations, I tend to lean towards the former.

4. “Starve a cold, feed a fever”; an old medical proverb

What we thought it means:

Do not eat when you have a cold, and eat when you have a fever.

The full quote:

“If you starve a cold, you’ll have to feed a fever.”

What it actually means:

Nutrition is needed when you’re sick. Otherwise, you’ll only get worse. Not a very poetic proverb, but there are still some people who believe that it actually is sound medical advice. Spoiler alert: it is not!

5. “The proof is in the pudding”; 14th-century proverb

What we thought it means:

The meaning behind the misquote is actually fairly confusing as no one truly can agree what the meaning is. One opinion is that the proof is right in front of you while others say that the true meaning is hidden by something that you can easily go through.

The full quote:

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

What it actually means:

In order to tell if you like a food, you have to try it first. This can also be applied to anything you haven’t done before, not just food tasting.

6. “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”; William Congreve

What we thought it means:

Nothing is as vengeful, hateful, or dangerous as a woman who has been hurt. It’s often used as a warning to not hurt or offend a woman, especially one you have been romantically involved with.

The full quote:

“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned / Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.”

What it actually means:

The meaning is actually fairly similar with very few differences, but the fuel behind the meaning is often argued. Some think it means that women are overly emotional while others believe that women are more powerful than anything when they have a reason to be.

7. “Curiosity killed the cat”

What we thought it means:

It is generally thought of as a warning that you should be cautious whenever you are curious.

The full quote:

“Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.”

What it actually means:

In a literal sense, it means that there is less of a threat or danger on your (or the cat’s) life whenever you’re curious. I like to see it as: it’s okay to be cautious when you’re curious, but don’t let that fear drive you from something you might fall in love with.

What phrases or proverbs did you use a lot without knowing the full meaning? What other popular proverbs and phrases did I miss? Leave a comment on my Twitter post about this article to share the knowledge.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this, please give it a like and share it as it helps me grow and continue to write. Stay tuned for more by following me on Twitter, too.


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    Cathryn DennisonWritten by Cathryn Dennison

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