A Dictionary of American Proverbs

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

O

oak Great oaks from little acorns grow. Vars.: (a) A big oak grew from a little acorn. (b) Big oaks from little acorns grow. (c) Big oaks from little chestnuts grow. (d) From big oaks little acorns grow. (e) From little acorns big oaks grow. (f) From little acorns great oaks grow. (g) From little acorns grow big oaks. (h) From little acorns tall oaks grow. (i) Large oaks from little acorns grow; large aches from little toe corns grow. (j) Little acorns into great oaks grow. (k) Mighty oaks from little acorns grow. (l) Tall oaks from little acorns grow. Rec. dist.: U.S., Can.1st cit.:ca 1374 Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde; US 1871 Jones, Life of Jefferson S. Batkins. 20c. coll.: ODEP 584, T&W 268, CODP101, Stevenson 1035:15, Whiting( MP) 458.

SEE ALSO Little STROKES fell great oaks. / Easy matter to bend a TWIG; hard matter to bend an oak. / The harder the WIND, the deeper the oak becomes rooted.

oar Don't lean on the oars. Var.: Don't rest on your oars. Rec. dist.: U.S., Can.1st cit.: 1726 Shelvocke, Voyage Round the World; US 1751 Wolcott Papers, 1750-1754 in Conn. Hist.Soc. Collections ( 1916). 20c. coll.: Stevenson 1706:4, Whiting 319, T&W 268, Whiting ( MP) 458.

oath1. An unlawful oath is better broken than kept. Rec. dist.: Ill.1st cit.: 1481 Reynard, The Fox, tr. Caxton, ed. Arber ( 1880). 20c. coll.: ODEP585, Stevenson 1707:8.

2. Eggs and oaths are easily broken. Rec. dist.: N.Y.

3. He who readily takes oath seldom swears to the truth. Var.: He who makes oath seldom swears to the truth. Rec. dist.: Ill.

SEE ALSO A true WORD needs no oath.

oats Sow your wild oats and pray for a crop failure. Rec. dist.: Calif.1st cit.: 1542 Becon, Early Works; US 1650 Works of Anne Bradstreet, ed. Ellis ( 1932). 20c. coll.: ODEP889, Whiting 320, Stevenson 1708:2, T&W 268, Whiting ( MP) 459.

obedience1. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Rec. dist.: Mich., Minn., N.Y., Ont.

2. Obedience is the first duty of a child. Rec. dist.: Ill.

SEE ALSO LOVE makes obedience light.

obey By learning to obey, you will know how to command. Var.: If you obey orders, you can give them. Rec. dist.: U.S., Can.1st cit.: 1574 Guazzo, Civile Conversation, tr. Pettie, T. T. ( 1925); US 1734 Franklin, PRAlmanac. 20c. coll.: Stevenson 382:3, Whiting ( MP) 459.

SEE ALSO He that is BOUND must obey. / LAWS too gentle are seldom obeyed; too severe, seldom executed. / The MAGISTRATE should obey the law; the people should obey the magistrate. / You cannot be a true MAN until you learn to obey. / The VESSEL that will not obey her helm will have to obey the rocks.

objectSEE The object of WAR is peace.

oblige We can not always oblige, but we can always speak obligingly. Rec. dist.: N.J.

obscurity Obscurity often brings safety. Rec. dist.: Ohio. 1st cit.:US 1948 Stevenson, Home Book of Proverbs. 20c. coll.: Stevenson 1710:8.

SEE ALSO PURITY is obscurity.

observer When you have no observers, be afraid of yourself. Rec. dist.: Mich.

obstacle1. Obstacles are the stepping-stones to success. Rec. dist.: Fla.

2. Obstacles make the goal clearer. Rec. dist.: Calif.

3. The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it. Var.: The greater the obstacle, the stronger the desire. Rec. dist.: N.C., Ont. 1st cit.:US 1948 Stevenson, Home Book of Proverbs. 20c. coll.: Stevenson 1893:11.

SEE ALSO FORTUNE doesn't lie at the end of the rainbow, it is found behind some obstacle.

obstinacy1. Obstinacy is most positive when it is most in the wrong. Rec. dist.: Ill.

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