Famous Sayings #178 — ‘Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick’

January 31, 2020

Speak softly and carry a big stick. You will go far.

William Allen Rogers [Public domain], via Wikipedia

This was a post I meant to finish and publish on Sunday, January 26, but after hearing the tragic news about Kobe and Gianna Bryant and seven others that day, I hadn’t the heart to go on with my normal schedule. (You can read my thoughts about the tragedy here.)

Now, I was researching this topic early in 2019, but I had originally decided to postpone this post until January 26, 2020 because of the historical connection to this proverb. Does this proverb have any connection to current events? You bet it does.

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January 26, 2020: Today Was a Terrible Day

Today, I was planning on posting a Famous Sayings post, but after hearing of some sad news today, I didn’t have to heart to do much research — or much of anything, for that matter. I was kind of watching the Pro Bowl when a relative alerted me to some terrible news.

This morning, I heard that Kobe Bryant, a beloved figure in Los Angeles and the world of sports, had died in a helicopter crash. Bryant’s Sikorsky S-76 was circling for a bit in foggy conditions and it crashed in a mountainous region. The news was first reported by TMZ, but I and others waited for confirmation, which, sadly, came from other news sources.

The news about Bryant’s death was bad enough, but as the day went on, the situation was much worse than we originally thought. By mid-day, news came out that five (now the count is at nine) people had died on the helicopter and that there were no survivors. Not everyone was identified, but at one point, it was suspected the Rick Fox (a former teammate of Bryant’s on the Los Angeles Lakers) was also on the helicopter. That news was refuted, but one bit of news really saddened me.

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Famous Sayings #177 — ‘Free at Last!’

January 20, 2020

‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’

Colors by Emijrp [Public domain]

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, I decided to do an extra Famous Sayings post this week at look at a part of the Reverend’s famous “I Have a Dream Speech.” The speech, giving on August 28, 1963, was part of the March on Washington to Jobs and Freedom. At the end of the speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. said these words:

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholic, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

‘Free at last! Free at last!
Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’

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Famous Sayings #176 — ‘Turn on a Dime’

January 19, 2020

A few months ago, George was living in his car, but after scoring that acting gig, he now has his own apartment. Sometimes life can turn on a dime.

Image by Rattakarn from Pixabay

This is a phrase that is often applied to cars with four-wheel drive, but it can apply to many different situations in life. The operative word is change, but it depends on how things change.

What Does ‘Turn on a Dime’ Mean?

To turn on a dime means “to turn very quickly and with agility.” The phrase “turn on a dime” can refer to a few things:

  • The ability of an automobile to stop, turn, or maneuver in a small space (ON A DIME).
  • How quickly circumstances can change, as in “Life can turn on a dime.” The saying “Life can turn on a dime” means that things can change very rapidly, whether for the better or worse (Various).
  • The propensity of someone to change their position or betray someone (as in “He turned on a dime”). A related term is “turn tail” (“Turn on a dime Synonyms”).
  • An instance where someone suddenly does something completely different from what they were doing before (“definition and meaning”).

The phrase “turning on a dime” conjures up the imagery of a person turning quickly and easily in a small space, as if that person had one foot on a coin. And since a dime is the smaller U.S. coin, that person “turning on a dime” is making a very sharp turn.

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Famous Sayings #175 — ‘Turnabout Is Fair Play’

January 5, 2020

You chastised Jimmy for making the same mistake you just made. Now Jimmy is giving you the same type of grief. Turnabout is fair play.

This proverb applies to adversarial relationships and games. Image by Łukasz Niedzielski from Pixabay.

It’s a new year, so this will be the first Famous Sayings post of 2020. This was a quote I was going to examine in 2019, but I didn’t make a lot of posts that year for various reasons (mostly work-related), but this year presents a chance for me to get back to a normal writing schedule for this blog. Anyway, this is a fun quote to look at, but I wonder how many people agree with its sentiments.


What Does ‘Turnabout Is Fair Play’ Mean?

Turnabout is fair play generally means one of two things:

  1. It is fair and permissible to retaliate against an enemy by hurting them the same way they hurt you (Merriam-Webster) or by using their dirty tricks against them (Various).
  2. It is morally right to take turns during games (Various).

The first definition was the original meaning of this proverb, but it was said as, “Turn about is fair play.” Then, a “turn about” meant that two or more people were taking turns while playing a game (Grammarist).

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