8 Famous Phrases
You’ve Been Using Wrongly
By Eldrin Veloso
A lot of people seem to think that replying with quip in the form of a famous quote or posting an evocative literary phrase on Facebook projects intelligence and depth. While we fully support holding the learned and well-read in high regard, we must also discern when a person is just mouthing off what he/she heard to sound smart.
So here’s a handy list of famous lines that people often get wrong either in iteration or meaning. Either by misquotation, lack of research or misunderstanding the author’s intent, it happens all the same. So let’s cue the silent, deriding laughter when we catch people using it incorrectly. Hey, smart-shaming needs a dire counter!
Common use: As a caution for being nosy.
Real use: The whole phrase is, “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” It can be seen on a 1912 issue of The Titusville Herald. The original intent of the proverb means it can be dangerous to poke your nose around, but it is worth the risk when you’re rewarded with the truth.
Common use: To school people who don’t want to focus on an expertise and just have superficial knowledge of various areas.
Real use: The full phrase of the couplet is, “Jack of all trades, master of none, though oftentimes better than master of one.” While it may be good to be an expert at one thing, it is sometimes better to have bits of knowledge of different topics.
Common use: Motivational excuse for workaholics.
Real use: This phrase is said to have come from Isaiah 48:22, “There is no peace,” says the Lord, “for the wicked.” And if you read the entire chapter, you’ll learn that when we talk about ‘wicked’ here, it’s not a hard worker aiming to be successful. And when we talk about ‘rest’ here, it’s not a power nap. It is almost our civic duty to clear that up every time the phrase is used incorrectly.
Common use: To pay each other a compliment when they think of the same thing at the same time.
Real use: The full proverb goes like this: “Great minds think alike, but fools rarely differ.” It doesn’t mean that when two minds think of the same thing, they’re great. You’ve been warned.