A Dictionary of American Proverbs

By Wolfgang Mieder; Stewart A. Kingsbury et al. | Go to book overview
Save to active project

INTRODUCTION
The title of this dictionary quite naturally leads to the question of what makes a proverb particularly "American." Even a cursory glance through the following pages will show that such internationally disseminated proverbs as One hand washes the other and Time flies are included. The same is true for such Biblical proverbs as Man does not live by bread alone ( Deuteronomy 8.3; Matthew 4.4) and The love of money is the root of all evil ( 1 Timothy 6. 10), which are current in many languages and cultures. And there are, of course, many proverbs in this collection that are of British origin, being registered for the first time in the works of Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, and other British authors.For all such proverbs, whether international, Biblical, or British, it must be kept in mind that, while they are not of American origin, they are certainly in common use in North America. They are thus "American" proverbs in that the population uses them frequently as concisely expressed, traditional bits of wisdom. As such, they surely belong in a dictionary of American proverbs. Historically, many of the proverbs in this collection appear in British sources dating as far back as the Middle Ages as well as in the seventeenth-century writings of early English-speaking settlers of North America.Yet, a mere second glance into this dictionary reveals many proverbs that are recorded only in American literary sources. Early examples are the proverbs attributed to Benjamin Franklin and Ralph Waldo Emerson that have, over time, become traditional. While many of the American proverbs that appear herein are also registered in earlier historical collections of proverbs from written sources, there are literally thousands of proverbs and their variants listed in this dictionary that have never been recorded before. The six proverbs listed under the headword car serve as a clear example of this fact:
1. A car in every garage and a chicken in every pot.
2. Don't count your new cars before they're built.
3. If in the car you like to court, change your car to a davenport.
4. If you can't drive your car, park it.
5. It's the empty car that makes the most noise.
6. You can't judge a car by its paint job.

-xi-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
A Dictionary of American Proverbs
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 718

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?