Famous Sayings #184 — ‘[Beware the] Ides of March’

March 15, 2020

Beware the ides of March.

Vincenzo Camuccini - La morte di Cesare
Vincenzo Camuccini / Public domain

As I was doing research for this famous phrase, I came across this quote in a subheading for one of my sources:

March 15 is known as the Ides of March, which may vaguely remind you of a high school English class.

Indeed, I first heard of this phrase while I was in high school — in the tenth grade to be exact — and after reading a certain play, the phrase has always stuck with me. Thus, when I realized that March 15 fell on a Sunday this year, I decided that this was the phrase I would be looking at on this date. (Note: As I’m typing this, March 16 is approaching …)

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Famous Sayings #183 — ‘Every Tom, Dick, and Harry’

March 14, 2020

Every Tom, Dick, and Harry believes that he can become rich. If everyone were rich, no one would be.

Three men thinking, one wearing a wristwatch
I’m not sure if these men’s names are Tom, Dick, and Harry, but they’re three guys, so … Image cropped. Original photograph by Szilárd Szabó from Pixabay.

This is an interesting expression to look at because it involves three male names that were once very popular. Thy are still common English names because chances are you have met a Tom, Dick, or Harry in your lifetime if you live in an English-speaking country.

Have you used this expression? I don’t believe I have, but I was introduced to it in my childhood.

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Famous Sayings #182 — ‘Wholeheartedly’

March 7, 2020

I agree wholeheartedly.

wholeheartedly, wholehearted, matters of the heart, famous sayings, 19th century

To get started in March, I decided to look at a term originally intended for February on Valentine’s Day to be exact but since I had already found the sources, why not publish it now? Since the post was originally meant for Valentine’s Day, it, of course, concerns a matter of the heart, so to speak.

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Famous Sayings #181 — ‘Leap Year’

February 29, 2020

Since it’s 2020, this year is a leap year.

I decided to cheat a little bit and use a term that is very pertinent to this year: leap year. While looking up the history of this term, I learned some interesting facts about the Gregorian calendar and the Earth’s revolution around the sun.


What Is a ‘Leap Year’?

Of course, a normal year according to the Gregorian calendar is one that lasts 365 days. A leap year has an extra day and generally comes every four years. The extra day, called a leap day, is February 29.

Our calendar year does not perfectly match up with the tropical year, which is the time it takes the Earth to make a full revolution around the sun. The Tropical year is also referred to as the solar year astronomical year, or an equinoctial year. We need to add a leap year every four years so that our calendar can line up with the Earth’s revolution around the sun, otherwise, we would lose about six hours every year and a total of 24 days in a century (“When Is the Next”).

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Famous Sayings #180 — ‘Fainthearted/Faint of Heart’

February 17, 2020

Car racing can be a dangerous sport. It’s not for the faint of heart.

fainthearted, faint of heart, famous sayings
I guess you can say that being a surgeon is not for the faint of heart. Image by skeeze from Pixabay.

As I was looking up the term half-hearted for the Famous Sayings post I published on Valentine’s Day, I came across some information for the word “fainthearted” and the related term “faint of heart.”


What Does It Mean to Be Fainthearted?

There are many definitions for the term fainthearted. In short, a fainthearted person:

  • Shows their weakness during difficult or intense situations (“What does”).
  • Is not confident or brave and they may dislike taking unnecessary risks (“FAINTHEARTED”).
  • Lacks courage. They are cowardly and timorous (“Fainthearted”).
  • Will easily experience anxiety or stress when faced with an unpleasant situation, a challenge, a risk, or physical strain (“Faint of heart – Idioms”).
  • May feel uncomfortable or become sick when they see graphic imagery (“Faint of heart – Idioms”).
  • Is squeamish, and thus unable to rise to the occasion (Grammarist).
  • Lacks conviction (Lexico).
  • Is irresolute (Various).

Generally, the term “faint of heart” can be used to refer to a group of timid people (Various). Also, when someone says that something that is “not for the fainthearted” or “not for the faint of heart” that person is saying that the thing in question is extreme or very unusual. Therefore, that thing is not suitable for people who only want to deal with the safe and familiar (“Not for the fainthearted”).

Other times, these terms can be used in the humorous sense to say that something is difficult and that it requires a lot of effort (“something is not”).

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Famous Sayings #179 — ‘Half-Hearted’

February 14, 2020

Despite knowing that she would need to their votes in her race for U.S. Senator, Paula made a half-hearted effort to reach out to this constituency.


Travis made a half-hearted attempt to pick up the trash in the schoolyard.


Dan made a half-hearted attempt to wash the dishes, so I had to step in. I know that was the point. He thinks he’s slick.

half-hearted, halfhearted, heart, Valentines Day, famous sayings

Since it’s Valentine’s Day is, here is a Famous Sayings post that concerns the heart. The term half-hearted is very prescient right now. The meaning is straightforward, but I was surprised to learn of its origin. Maybe you won’t be, but it is interesting.

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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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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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