A Dictionary of American Proverbs

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

K

keenSEE A FENCE between makes friends more keen.

keepSEE Easy to keep the CASTLE that was never besieged. / One is known by the COMPANY he keeps. / Keep your own DOORSTEPS clean. / He's no FOOL who parts with what he cannot keep to get what he shall not lose. / If you want to keep a FRIEND, never borrow, never lend. / The best way to keep a FRIEND is not to give him away. / Make new FRIENDS but keep the old. / Those who betray their FRIENDS must not expect others to keep faith with them. / HOPE keeps a man from hanging and drowning himself. / He that can travel well afoot keeps a good HORSE. / Keep the LAW and keep from the law. / Keep your NOSE to the grindstone. / Keep yourself from the OPPORTUNITY and God will keep you from the sin. / Better keep PEACE than make peace. / Who will not keep a PENNY shall never have many. / Keep your POWDER dry. / A little SAND keeps you from slipping. / Praise the SEA, but keep on land. / Two can keep a SECRET if one is dead. / Keep your SHOP and your shop will keep you. / Keep your SOUL and your shop will keep you. / Keep the STAFF in your own hand. / One SWORD keeps another in its scabbard. Keep your TEMPER: nobody else wants it. Keep a THING seven years and it's bound to come in handy. / Keep your TONGUE within your teeth. / Great TREES keep down little ones. / WORK keeps you out of mischief. / You can't keep up with the WORLD by letting it roll by.

keeperSEE FINDERS keepers, losers weepers. / KINGS and bears often worry their keeper.

keptSEE A bad PROMISE is better broken than kept. / All PROMISES are either broken or kept.

kernel1. He that will eat the kernel must crack the nut. Vars.: (a) He that wants the kernel must crack the nut. (b) He that would eat the kernel must not complain of cracking the nuts. (c) He who would eat the kernel must crack the nut. Rec. dist.: Miss., N.Y., Ohio, Ont.1st cit.: ca 1500 Antiquarian Repertory ( 1809); US 1788 Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Boyd ( 1950). 20c. coll.: ODEP215, Whiting 243, Stevenson 2623:5.

2. He that will have the kernel must crack the shell. Rec. dist.: Okla., Tex.1st cit.: ca 1500 in Antiq. Repertory ( 1809); US 1779 Public Papers of George Clinton, ed. Hastings ( 1899-1911). 20c. coll.: ODEP215, Whiting243, Stevenson 394:2.

3. The sweetest kernel lies in the hard shell. Var.: The harder the nut, the sweeter the kernel. Rec. dist.: Ill., Ont.

SEE ALSO The HUSK often tells what the kernel is.

kettle1. A kettle rattles most before it boils. Rec. dist.: Colo., N.Y.

2. A watched kettle never boils. Var.: If you watch the kettle, it will never boil. Rec. dist.: U.S. Infm.: Cf. pot. 1st cit.: 1848 Gaskell, Mary Barton; US 1940 Boothe, Europe in Spring. 20c. coll.: ODEP869, CODP242, Whiting ( MP) 507.

3. An empty kettle makes the most noise. Rec. dist.: Ind., N.Y., Ohio, Ont.

4. Every kettle has to sit on its own bottom. Rec. dist.: Ohio.

5. It's a dry kettle that has the most spouting. Rec. dist.: Ind.

6. No matter how black the kettle, there is always a lid to fit it. Vars.: (a) Every kettle has a lid. (b) Never a kettle so crooked but there was a lid to fit it. Rec. dist.: Kans., Ohio, Utah.

7. On an old kettle there isn't much to mend. Rec. dist.: Ont.

8. Remember the kettle: though up to the neck in hot water, it continues to sing. Var.: When in trouble, think of the kettle, which, though up to its neck in hot water, sings. Rec. dist.: Ont., Utah.

9. The kettle should not call the pot black. Vars.: (a) A kettle can't throw up black to the pot. (b) The kettle called the pot smutty. (c) The kettle can't call the skillet blackbottom.

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A Dictionary of American Proverbs
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Abbreviations xvii
  • A 3
  • B 33
  • C 79
  • D 133
  • E 173
  • F 193
  • G 245
  • I 323
  • J 337
  • K 345
  • L 357
  • M 395
  • N 423
  • O 435
  • P 447
  • Q 493
  • R 497
  • S 521
  • T 579
  • U 623
  • V 629
  • W 637
  • Y 685
  • Z 689
  • Bibliography 691
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