The hand that rocks the cradle _____.
This comes from a poem published in 1865 by American poet William Ross Wallace as an ode to Motherhood.
The more things change, the more they _____.
This epigram is actually a translation of French satirist and journalist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s (1808-1800) famous words: ‘plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.’
There are none so blind as those that _____.
No one is exactly sure who first expressed the sentiment in this way, but it has clear echoes from the Biblical prophet Jeremiah. In 5:21 he laments ‘Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not’. Indeed, the full version of the English phrase goes like this: ‘There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know’.
Don't think things through
Don't bring enough lamp oil
There's no fool like _____.
The definite origin of this phrase appears to be lost. The meaning derives from the common foolishness of people when they are younger, and the improvement of their wisdom when they age. Therefore, if someone is a fool when they are older it is much more inexcusable.
There's no smoke without _____.
This is another traditional idiom: no one knows its actual origin. However, the meaning is quite clear. Since smoke indicated fire, rumors are said to indicate truth. However, this doesn't seem a very fair phrase to use, as rumors are often quite wrong.
There's no such thing as a _____.
No one is sure when this phrases originated, but it appears to be American. At one time in the 19th century many saloon bars would offer a free lunch to any patrons purchasing a drink. The phrase is now used to show that what appears to be free actually has a cost, which has just been cleverly displaced. The saloon lunch was not free, but part of the price of the drink!
There's one born _____.
This phrase is often said differently, as ‘There’s a sucker born every minute’, which is much less subtle an insult than the original above. However, whether it is a sucker or a fool, the phrase comments on the general stupidity and folly of mankind.
Those who sleep with dogs, will _____.
This phrase has been attributed to the great Benjamin Franklin, who some believe to have translated the phrase from the Latin: ‘qui cum canibus concumbunt cum pulicibus surgent’. Many believe Seneca wrote the original, but there is no positive evidence of this. The meaning is said to be that if you associate with social inferiors you will pick up their bad habits.
Time and tide wait for _____.
This interesting phrase could be at least 1000 years old, going right back to Old English. Scholars believe the tide is not in fact a reference to the ocean tide, but simply refers to time, as can still be seen in the phrases ‘Yule Tide’ and ‘Good tidings’. Time and tide is then simply a poetic repetition of the same thing. Thus you will often hear the phrase said with the verb in the singular as: ‘Time and tide waits for no man.’ The meaning is an urge to get on with action, and cease delays.
Truth is stranger than _____.
This phrase can be linked to three literary giants. Shakespeare is credited with the phrase ‘strange but true’ in Macbeth; Lord Byron wrote the immortal lines ‘’Tis strange - but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction’; and Mark Twain built upon it thus: "Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.” In this case then we have to give the plaudits to Lord Byron, but what a sublime colloquy between these literary heroes!
A house divided against itself _____.
Jesus Christ spoke these words (Mark 3:22-26), when accused by the scribes of Jerusalem that he was casting out devils with help from the Devil. He replied that if he were doing so then Satan must be expelling himself and therefore he will be destroyed. He compares this to a house that can’t stand if divided against itself. So, either Jesus is saying their accusation is illogical and nonsensical, or that good always defeats evil, and their worries are vain.
Sets one against the other
Hell hath no fury like _____.
This oft used phrase is actually from an English tragedy performed in 1697 and written by William Congreve. The verses go like this: ‘Heaven has no rage, like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury, like a woman scorned.’ The same play is also the origin for the famous phrase: ‘Music has charms to soothe a savage breast’, which is quite frequently misremembered as ‘savage beast.’
You Have Room to Improve…
But you are well on your way! Bravo for having a go at this quiz, because few can master the obscure phrases we have picked out. Still, we hope this bit of fun has taught you a few phrases you can impress your friends with. That’ll give you the boost you need to learn even more! Better luck next time!