she believed she could so she did
October 16, 2012 2:45 PM   Subscribe

"She believed she could, so she did." I'm starting to see this aphorism (?) a bit all over the place. Where does this phrase come from? Is this a quote? What's the source? (Thanks hive-mind!)
posted by ruelle to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
This is highly unlikely, but I'm including it just because it's great:

Melinda Mae
Have your heard of tiny Melinda Mae,
Who ate a monstrous whale?
She thought she could,
She said she would,
So she started right in at the tail.

And everyone said, "You're much too small,"
But that didn't bother Melinda at all.
She took little bites and she chewed very slow,
Just like a good girl should...

...And in eighty-nine years she ate that whale
Because she said she would!

--Shel Silverstein
(the pictures really make this one)
posted by Madamina at 3:58 PM on October 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just to confirm what you're seeing, Google Ngram Viewer agrees that the phrase "she believed she could" has been on the increase.
posted by limeonaire at 4:01 PM on October 16, 2012

Although it's actually even more dramatic if you look at both parts of the phrase in comparison; it looks like the "so she did" part might be more relevant.
posted by limeonaire at 4:04 PM on October 16, 2012

I also wonder if it's being driven by Etsy and Pinterest; I'm seeing a lot of this on both sites.
posted by limeonaire at 4:10 PM on October 16, 2012

The sentiment expressed is so basic that I wouldn't be surprised if someone completely un-notable originated it unintentionally and it just caught on as a catchy phrase.
posted by threeants at 5:34 PM on October 16, 2012

One more instance, from Guy & Suzanna Clark circa mid-'90s:

He did not know he could not fly, so he did.
posted by Kandarp Von Bontee at 5:41 PM on October 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well, in 2006, it was on at least one Hallmark product.

As limeonaire pointed out, there seems to have been an increased use of this construction beginning in the late 90s ("so he did" is even more dramatic). But I can't find anything that counts beyond incidental use of the "could so s/he did" form. There's a Jethro Tull lyric from 1987 ("she said she was a dancer, so she did"), but it's clearly using "so she did" as an intensifier rather than indicating causation, and it was a decade before the effect (and who listens to Jethro Tull lyrics anyway lol).

The only direct predecessor I can suss out is the tale of the Little Red Hen:
A little red hen found a grain of wheat. "Who will plant this grain of wheat?" said the hen. "I won't," said the cat. "I won't," said the rat. "I won't," said the pig. "I won't," said the dog. "Then, I will," said the little red hen. So she did .
But this is something that last had currency in educational circles a century ago.
posted by dhartung at 4:20 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I came to say what kandarp said.
posted by dpx.mfx at 4:22 AM on October 17, 2012

OK, great thank you hivemind!
posted by ruelle at 5:26 AM on October 18, 2012

« Older Eye sun protection options for short sighted...   |   Building a sane classroom after school Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.