Famous Sayings #119 — ‘[Every] Now and Then…’

August 26, 2018

Every now and then, I like to enjoy an In-N-Out burger.

every now and then, now and then, In-N-Out, famous sayings
I do enjoy these burgers every now and then. To be honest, I’m in the mood for one right now. Original Image by punctuated via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

This should be a quick one because the meaning of the phrase “[every] now and then” is self-apparent. However, the etymology of this phrase is pretty interesting.


What Does ‘[Every] Now and Then’ Mean?

As you can see by the usage of the phrase, “every now and then” or just “now and then” means “occasionally.” It’s in reference to something that isn’t done every day or very often, if not rare.

There are a number of related sayings which pretty much mean the same thing, including:

  • Every so often
  • (Every) Now and again
  • Ever so often
  • Every once in a while
  • From time to time
  • Once and again
  • Once in a while
  • Sometimes
  • At intervals
  • At times
  • Off and on
  • On occasion
  • Once in a blue moon
  • Once or twice

I have looked at once in a blue moon before, which means “rarely.” Check that post out if you haven’t before.


When Was This Phrase Coined?

There were about two sources I consulted that pinpointed the origin of “now and then,” although there might be some contradiction in one.

At the Online Etymology Dictionary, I looked up a few words, including “now” and “then.”

The word “now,” which means “at present” or “immediately,” comes from the Old English word “nu.” It also has Germanic roots.

Certain meanings and phrases connected to the word now are listed:

  • The adjective meaning “up to date” was first recorded in 1967.
  • The adjective meaning “current” likely comes from the late 14th
  • The saying “now and then,” which means “occasionally,” was attested from the 1530s.
  • The phrase “now or never,” likely comes from the 1550s.

However, when I looked at the entry for “then,” this is the information I found:

  • The word “then” comes from Old English (banne, bænne, bonne) and has Prot-Germanic roots.
  • This page also mentions the origin of the phrase “now and then” was circa the 1550s.

At Answers, the origin of now and then was put at 1550.

At the very least, we can say that the phrase arose in the mid-16th century.


Hey, Why Not Talk About In-N-Out?

It has been a while since I’ve enjoyed an In-N-Out burger, but there was a point when I went years (yes, years) without eating from there. I am reminded of this post on Nerdy Life of Mine from a year ago.

Every_Now_and_Then_Image2

Jason Bucky Brooks had gone 1 ½ years without eating from In-N-Out, but I believe I my hiatus was a lot longer.

For those of you who don’t know, In-N-Out is a drive-through burger chain that was founded in California in 1948 by Harry and Esther Snyder. Since 2005, In-N-Out has expanded to six states.

  • In 2005, the burger chain expanded to Nevada and Arizona.
  • In 2008, it expanded to Utah.
  • In 2011, it expanded to Texas.
  • The burger chain extended to Oregon in 2015.

If you’re ever in any of these states and like hamburgers, I suggested you give In-N-Out a try. The burgers are awesome, the shakes are pretty good, but the fries are alright.


Works Cited

Brooks, Jason Bucky. “Let The Games Begin.” Nerdy Life of Mine. 4 Aug 2017. Weblog. <https://nerdylifeofmine.com/2017/08/04/let-the-games-begin/>.

“Every | Definition of Every by Merriam-Webster.” Merriam-Webster. Web. Retrieved 26 Aug 2018. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/every>.

“Every now and then | Define Every now and then at Dictionary.com.” Dictionary.com. Web. Retrieved 26 Aug 2018. <https://www.dictionary.com/browse/every–now–and–then>.

“Every now and then – definition of every now and then by The Free Dictionary.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. Web. Retrieved 26 Aug 2018. <https://www.thefreedictionary.com/every+now+and+then>.

“every now and then Meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary.” Cambridge Dictionary. Cambridge University Press. Web. Retrieved 26 Aug 2018. <https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/every-now-and-then>.

“Every now and then synonyms, Every now and then antonyms.” Thesaurus.com. Web. Retrieved 26 August 2018. Web. <https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/every%20now%20and%20then>.

Harper, Douglas. “now | Origin and meaning of now by Online Etymology Dictionary.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. Retrieved 26 August 2018. <https://www.etymonline.com/word/now#etymonline_v_9846>.

Harper, Douglas. “occasional | Origin and meaning of occasional by Online Etymology Dictionary.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. Retrieved 26 August 2018. <https://www.etymonline.com/word/occasional#etymonline_v_31116>.

Harper, Douglas. “sometimes | Origin and meaning of sometimes by Online Etymology Dictionary.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. Retrieved 26 August 2018. <https://www.etymonline.com/word/sometimes#etymonline_v_48895>.

Harper, Douglas. “then | Origin and meaning of then by Online Etymology Dictionary.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. Retrieved 26 August 2018. <https://www.etymonline.com/word/then#etymonline_v_10728>.

“History.” In-N-Out Burger. Web. Retrieved 26 Aug 2018. <http://www.in-n-out.com/history.aspx>.

“Now and then – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. Web. Retrieved 26 August 2018. <https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/now+and+then>.

“Now and then synonyms, Now and then antonyms.” Thesaurus.com. Web. Retrieved 26 August 2018. Web. <https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/now%20and%20then>.

“What is the origin of the phrase every now and then.” Answers. Web. Retrieved 26 Aug 2018. <http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_origin_of_the_phrase_every_now_and_then>.

Have any thoughts on the subject? Time’s yours.

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