Scouring the depths of the internet I found out, much to my dismay, that some phrases which were augmented as life-lessons in our childhoods were only half the truth and in many cases the wrong half. Quietly comprehending this new found information (my brain mostly going ‘bruh.’), I found myself questioning almost every such advice cloaked as a proverb. While racking my mind back to the moral science classes in primary school, I questioned far too many sayings than I’d like and here are the ones that mattered the most:
“Jack of all trades, master of none…”
Being quite the ice-breaker during parent-teacher meetings, this particular construction did put a damper on my childhood dream of becoming a ‘spy-singer’. No longer being a victim of this industriously circulated lie, I am pleased to now know that it’s “A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one“. However, I can’t help but wonder about the course my life would have taken had my parents agreed to enrol the 10-year-old me in Karate, gymnastics, vocal training and piano lessons I had pleaded for.
“Great minds think alike…”
Quite a few out there (you know who you are) are guilty of using this phrase more than they realise. The platitudinous parlance of this particularly peevish half-quote that embraces an equally detestable form of self-praise brings me great pleasure in recovering its more socially descriptive bona fide: “Great minds think alike, though fools seldom differ.”
Sit down Joe-Spitboast, you got owned.
“Blood runs thicker than water…”
Literally, yes it does; metaphorically, not so much. Diving straight into the essence, it was meant to be “Blood of the covenant runs thicker than the water of the womb”. Changes the whole point of view, doesn’t it? It was meant to convey that the bond forged in shared trials and tests of time is oftentimes much stronger than simple genetics.
Amen to that, sister.
Bonus: “Starve a cold, feed a fever.”
On behalf of everyone in the healthcare system: please don’t. Not only is this misquoted, but it is also just awful advice. Originally quoted as “If you starve a cold, you will have to feed a fever” (which is wisdom you can take to heart), which can metaphorically mean that neglecting a small issue can possibly lead to a more serious problem. Or WebMD from the middle-ages was trolling before it was cool.
So, what happened? How is it that some of the most common ‘words of wisdom’ are grossly the opposite of the true meaning they carry? Such is the nature of eternal verities that were once cloaked but now come forth; rest assured, that’s a question we’ll all be pondering for some time. All said and done, this experience taught me to fact-check every ‘moral of the story’ that means to convey old adage lest it’s lost its essence on the account of being prey to the obstinate clutches of pejoration.