Famous Sayings #126 — ‘What Goes Around Comes Around…’

October 14, 2018

You should be careful how you treat others because, as they say, ‘What goes around comes around …’

what goes around comes around, what comes around goes around, famous sayings, karma, interpersonal relationships, the environment

Believe it or not, I selected this famous saying months ago. As it turns out, one judge, in particular, decided to use this phrase in a purely partisan, angry, inflammatory statement he gave in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. Y’all know what happened, but let’s put that aside for a few moments and take a look at this idiom.

What Does ‘What Goes Around Comes Around’ Mean?

The idiom “What goes around comes around” (alternatively: “What comes around goes around”) can mean one of two things:

  1. It can refer to a process of something returning to its original value or place after going through a cycle or rotation (Wiktionary).
  2. whatever a person does to someone else might be done to them
  3. The way one person treats another person might determine how the first person is treated at a later time.
  4. Depending on what a person does, they will face some consequences.

The first sense is rarely used and is more akin to the phrase “full circle.” More often, when we say, “what comes around goes around,” we are using the phrase in the second, third, or fourth sense. This is akin to “You reap what you sow.”

Continue reading “Famous Sayings #126 — ‘What Goes Around Comes Around…’”


Famous Sayings #125 — ‘Don’t Dish It Out…’

October 7, 2018

You just criticized Alice’s work ethic, but you got mad when she pointed out that you like to cut corners in your work. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

don't dish it out, if you can't take it, you can dish it out, but you can't take it, famous sayings
Image by Drew Coffman via Flickr. Some Rights Reserved.

This should be a quick one. The meaning of this saying is fairly self-evident, and the origin is interesting enough.

What Does Someone Mean When They Say, ‘Don’t Dish It Out If You Can’t Take It’?

The saying “Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it” means ones of three things:

  1. To literally serve food. In terms of cooking, cooks were advised not to serve (dish out) any entrees that they were unwilling to eat.
  2. To distribute something, like advice, information, money, news, etc. This is generally positive.
  3. To give out abuse, criticism, insults, punishments, etc. It pertains to how people treat each other, especially in the verbal sense. An alternative to this saying is “You can dish it out, but you can’t take it.”

We usually refer to “dishing something out” in the third sense, and we are describing people who express harsh thoughts, harshly criticize others, or insult others. These same people could not take a fraction of the abuse they’re giving. Thus, this saying basically deals with hypocrisy and evenness. It’s similar to the saying “People [who live] in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Continue reading “Famous Sayings #125 — ‘Don’t Dish It Out…’”

Famous Sayings #124 — ‘Fair-Weather Friend/Fan’

October 1, 2018

I see that Georgia wouldn’t loan you the money even though she had it and you loaned her money when she needed it. I told you: She is a fair-weather friend.

Hey, where we you when the team was losing? You’re just a fair-weather fan.

fair-weather friend, fair-weather fan, Alexander Pope, sports fans, famous sayings
I’m not taking a jab at (other) 49ers fans, but the NFL does have quite a bit of fair-weather fans. So do other sports. I will say that I’m not a fan of the 49ers’ move to Santa Clara, though. Image from Pixabay.

This week, I chose a couple of phrases that are connected in meaning, but the first may have first been recorded in this day in history.

Continue reading “Famous Sayings #124 — ‘Fair-Weather Friend/Fan’”

Famous Sayings #123 — ‘Get/Jump On the Bandwagon’

September 25, 2018

He’s the hottest quarterback in the league. It’s time to jump on the bandwagon.

jump on the bandwagon, get on the bandwagon, bandwagon, circus, famous sayings

If you have been following me long enough, you know that I watch NFL football and that I follow the San Francisco 49ers. When I decided on this topic weeks ago, I had the upcoming NFL season in mind. Right now, we’re in Week 3 of this young NFL season, and this term applies, but not necessarily to my team. Continue reading “Famous Sayings #123 — ‘Get/Jump On the Bandwagon’”

Famous Sayings #122 — ‘Turn Over a New Leaf’

September 16, 2018

Timmy said that he was going to turn over a new leaf. For much of his career at school, he has been a slacker, but for the past few weeks, he has been doing his homework and studying more. So far, I see a sharp improvement in his grades.

turn over a new leaf, famous sayings, autumnal equinox, vernal equinox
You might think that the phrase “turn over a new leaf” has something to do with changing seasons. It does not, but autumn or spring starts on September 22, depending on the hemisphere where you live.

The phrase “turn over a new leaf” is a phrase I have heard for years, but it’s one I have never really used myself. Sure, the meaning is clear, but I have never really been one to make resolutions — especially since they are easily broken.

Anyway, “turn over a new leaf” is quite an interesting phrase to look at. Even though it is relatively easy to decipher the meaning of it, I learned more about the figurative sense of the phrase and its origin.

I had chosen this phrase ahead of time because of the change in seasons. On Saturday, autumn will be upon us — for those of us in the Northern hemisphere (). Those who live in the Southern Hemisphere will get to enjoy the vernal equinox and, in a sense, “turn over a new leaf,” but the saying in question has nothing to do with spring.

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Famous Sayings #121 — ‘Twenty-Four Seven (24/7)’

September 9, 2018

Our operators are available 24/7 and they’re ready to take care of your needs, day or night.

twenty-four seven, famous sayings

This week, we will look at a slang term that should be very familiar. It’s a term I first heard in the 1990s, but from my research, it appears to be a little bit older than I thought it was. Oddly enough, the meaning of this term wasn’t apparent to me when I first heard it, but I was pretty young, and I only needed some time to think about it.

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Famous Sayings #120 — ‘Labor Movement’

September 3, 2018

In the West, the labor movement has existed in one form or another since industrialization.

labor movement, Labor Day, famous sayings
In 2013, 200 people picketed outside of Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, Minnesota to protest the intimidation of labor organizers. Image by Fibonacci Blue via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

This is a little late, but I had quite a bit of work to do this past week. However, in honor of Labor Day, I wanted to make an aptly themed Famous Sayings post.

Now, the labor movement in the West has many caveats; it’s too great of a topic for me to fully tackle right now (given how long my posts generally are), but I would like to provide a relatively quick overview of this topic and look at the origin of the phrase. (Of course, I would like to take a deeper look at this one day, so stay tuned.)

What Does the Term ‘Labor Movement’ Mean?

If you’ve heard or read about strikes in the news or another medium, you’ve likely heard about a labor movement. In short, the labor movement arose in order to improve conditions for workers in the following ways:

  • Obtaining better wages
  • Securing reasonable hours
  • Establishing safer working conditions
  • Stopping child labor
  • Getting workers health benefits
  • Proving aid to injured and retired workers

These have always been the goals of labor advocates, who include workers, unions, and activists. Most of the time, the labor movement has been channeled through the medium of unions and it long been intertwined with national and local politics (History.com Staff). While a sustained labor movement can put pressure on business owners to improve conditions for workers, most of the changes for workers (positive and negative) have occurred at the local, state, and national levels.

When Was the Term ‘Labor Movement’ Firs Recorded?

The only source I found that put a date to the term “labor movement” was Merriam-Webster. The entry for the term states its origin was 1844, in reference to workers banding together to improve their occupational, economic, and social standing through the creation of labor unions. Merriam-Webster’s dates have been iffy before, but this date might be correct, given what I found about the origins of the word “labor.”

At the Online Etymology Dictionary, the entry for “labor” pinpoints the origin of the word around the beginning of the 14th century. However, labor in the sense of workers as part of a class was first used around 1839. That would five years before labor movement was first used if Merriam-Webster is correct.

When Did the Labor Movement Begin?

As I said in the quote at the top of this post, there has always been a form of a labor movement in some form since the Industrial Revolution began in 1760. In the United States, the first-recorded strike took place in 1768, as journeymen tailors in New York protested a wage reduction. The first “sustained trade union organization among American workers” took place in 1794, when the Federal Society of Journeymen Cordwainers (for shoemakers) was formed in Philadelphia (History.com Staff).

The labor movement gained steam in the 1880s, as the first Labor Day was held and states began to officially recognize the holiday. In 1894, Congress made Labor Day a national holiday to be celebrated the first Monday in September (“History”). (I discussed this 2 years ago.)

While unions began to wane by the time Howard Taft became president, they gained new life during the Great Depression, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt introduced his New Deal reforms. Unions used their new clout for the following three decades, reaching their height in the 1970s. By 1979, 21 million American workers belonged to unions, but it was largely downhill from there (Meyer). Union lost a considerable amount of clout, especially after Ronald Reagan assumed the presidency and led the most anti-union presidency ever seen.

Why Do We Need a Labor Movement?

Current events provide that answer. When you look at the news today, there are a few things that stand out, including:

  • Amazon’s mistreatment of its own workers.
  • Apple’s exploitation of its workers.
  • The exploitation of undocumented workers.
  • Right-to-work states.
  • Teachers’ strikes.
  • Trump’s decision to block raises for federal workers.

In all those situations, workers are being underpaid and forced to work harder for their low wages. Amazon’s misdeeds are especially egregious. This has happened in large part because of the reduced clout of unions and the efforts of oligarchs to increase their own profits by any means. We need more people who will advocate for the rights and well-being of workers because these models are unsustainable and unnecessarily cruel.

In the case of the teacher’s strikes, the teachers are finding moderate success. In states that have been highlighted, like West Virginia and Oklahoma, the teachers were able to obtain higher wages, and more needs to be done. However, we are learning about the effect the teachers are having on this year’s midterms, which I want to discuss in the future.

Works Cited

Labor Movement | Definition of Labor Movement by Merriam-Webster.” Merriam-Webster.” Web. Retrieved 3 Sept 2018. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/labor%20movement>.

Harper, Douglas. “labor | Origin and meaning of labor by Online Etymology Dictionary.” Online Etymology Dictionary. Web. Retrieved 3 September 2018. <https://www.etymonline.com/word/labor#etymonline_v_1970>.

“History of Labor Day.” United States Department of Labor. Updated 2018. Web. Retrieved 3 Sept 2018. <https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history>.

History.com Staff. “Labor Movement.” History.com. A+E Networks. 2009. 3 Sept 2018. <https://www.history.com/topics/labor>.

Meyer, Gerald. “Union Membership Trends in the United States.” Cornell University ILR School Digital Commons. 31 Aug 2004. PDF. Retrieved 3 Sept 2018. <https://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1176&context=key_workplace>.

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.


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>.

Famous Sayings #118 — ‘If You Can’t Take the Heat …’

August 19, 2018

If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

if you cant take the heat, if you cant stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, Gordon Ramsay, famous sayings
Original image by gordonramsaysubmissions via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

I planned to look into this phrase because it mentioned heat and I fully expected August to be a very hot month. While August is often very hot where I am, July turned out to be a very hot month for me. Last month, I had to deal with a broken air conditioner, and some rooms in my home were hotter than others. It made for some very interesting choices when I had to work on my computer or cook.

Anyway, the heat mentioned in this phrase has at least a couple meanings to it, although it can have a literal meaning in terms of cooking.

Continue reading “Famous Sayings #118 — ‘If You Can’t Take the Heat …’”

Famous Sayings #117 — ‘It Takes One to Know One’

August 13, 2018

“You know what, Johnny? You’re an extremely selfish person.”

“Hey, it takes one to know one.”

famous sayings, it takes one to know one, projection, retort

This week, we will be looking at a famous saying that has quite of bit of related phrases. I might look at some of them individually in the future, but for now, let’s look at this one that is still in use today.

What Does ‘It Takes One to Know One’ Mean?

This phrase is pretty self-explanatory, but it can mean a few things, based on how it’s used.

For one thing, “It takes one to know one” can be used as a retort. Usually, when this retort is used, a person using it was insulted. For example, that person could be called an idiot or other stupid, yet derogatory name. They will respond by saying, “You are one also” (“Takes one”).

Sometimes, when someone says, “It takes ones to know one,” they can mean that a person who has certain qualities is more likely to see it (or perceive it) in others. It’s like this Danish phrase: “Tyv tror, at hver mand stjæler.” This means “A thief believes everybody steals” (Wiktionary).

Basically, the person who utters the phrase is calling projection, which puts the spotlight on the person making an accusation. Thus, when someone says, “It takes one to know one,” they are saying that the person accusing them of being a certain way is (also) that way (Ammer).

Other times, albeit rarely, the phrase “It takes one to know one” is used in a playful, complementary manner (“What does”). Here’s an example of a father complimenting his daughter:

Jenny is such a brilliant artist. She takes after her dad. I guess it takes one to know one.

That’s pretty nice. 😊 I like it when the phrase is used in this way, but for the most part, “It takes one to know one” is used in a derogatory manner.

Where Did This Phrase Originate?

The first clear answer I got to this question was from an old thread on The Phrase Finder’s forums. On May 8, 2002, a user named Nicole asked other users about the phrase “It takes one to know one.” Nicole wanted to know what the phrase meant, if there were other phrases like that one and if the phrase in question was derogative (she spelled it “derrogative”). Four users responded to the thread within a day.

ESC’s post was the most helpful because he cited an entry from the Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings (1996). According to the information posted by ESC, the phrase “It takes one to know one” is often used to deflect an accusation and it implies that only a person with certain traits can recognize those traits in others. The snippet also said that the phrase could have originated around the late 19th or early 20th century.

I also found two sources that cited an entry from the American Heritage® Dictionary. According to the entry, the phrase was always meant as a retort to an insult and could date back to the early 1900s.

Additionally, I found out that the phrase like “It takes one to know one” exists in the Gaelic Language. The Compass Rose and GaelicMatters.com websites contained the phrase Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile, which can be translated to “One beetle recognizes another.” However, there was no way to figure out when the phrase was first introduced into the Gaelic language.

What Are Some Similar Phrases to ‘It Takes One to Know One’?

Remember the most common use of the phrase. In that vein, these are similar sayings:

  • “Look who’s talking.”
  • “That’s the pot calling the kettle black.”
  • “I know you are, but what am I?”

I think that each of these phrases deserves further investigation pertaining to their origins. (And the second one would be a fun art project.)

There is also another saying that is related but takes on a new meaning: “It takes a thief to catch a thief.” I would also like to look at this saying, as well.

Works Cited

Ammer, Christine. “It takes one to know one.” The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms. 1995, 1997, 2001, 2002, 2003. The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Print. Retrieved. 13 Aug. 2018

“Famous Irish Sayings with Gaelic Translation.” GaelicMatters.com. Web. Retrieved 13 August 2018. <http://www.gaelicmatters.com/famous-irish-sayings.html>.

“Irish Proverbs in Gaelic and English / Celtic Wisdom from Ireland.” Compass Rose Cultural Crossroads.” Web. Retrieved 13 Aug 2018. <http://www.compassrose.org/folklore/irish/Irish-Proverbs-Gaelic.html>.

“It takes one to know one – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. Web. Retrieved 13 Aug 2018. <https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/it+takes+one+to+know+one>.

“it takes one to know one (phrase) definition and synonyms.” Macmillan Dictionary. Web. Retrieved 13 Aug 2018. <https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/it-takes-one-to-know-one>.

“It takes one to know one | Define It takes one to know one at Dictionary.com.” Dictionary.com. Web. Retrieved 12 Aug 2018. <https://www.dictionary.com/browse/it-takes-one-to-know-one>.

“It takes one to know one.” Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2018.

“takes one to know one.” McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. 2002. The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. Print. Accessed 13 Aug. 2018

“Takes one to know one – Idioms by The Free Dictionary.” The Free Dictionary. Farlex, Inc. Web. Retrieved 13 Aug 2018. <https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/takes+one+to+know+one>.

Titelman, Gregory Y. Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings. Random House. New York; 1996. Print.

Various Authors. It takes one to know one.” The Phrase Finder. Topic Created 8 May 2002. Last Updated 9 May 2002. Online Forum. Retrieved 12 Aug 2018. <https://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/13/messages/1473.html>.

Various Authors. “it takes one to know one.” Wiktionary. Last Updated 1 June 2018. Web. Retrieved 13 Aug 2018. <https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/it_takes_one_to_know_one>.

Various Authors. “What does ‘it takes one to know one’ mean?” Quora. Web. Retrieved 12 Aug 2018. <https://www.quora.com/What-does-it-takes-one-to-know-one-mean>.

“What does it takes one to know one mean?” Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2018. Web. Retrieved 13 Aug 2018. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/it+takes+one+to+know+one>.

“Where does the phrase ‘it takes one to know one’ come from?” Quora. Web. Retrieved 12 August 2018. <https://www.quora.com/unanswered/Where-does-the-phrase-it-takes-one-to-know-one-come-from>.