Opposing aphorisms
September 12, 2005 7:36 PM   Subscribe

I'm making a list of 'wise sayings' that contradict eachother. Examples: Many hands make light work.< -->Too many cooks spoil the broth. Look before you leap.< --> He who hesitates is lost. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.< --> Out of sight, out of mind. More, please, but not from 'pop culture'; rather, phrases more established in literature and ethnic/cultural history. Morals from Aesop's fables? Biblical quotes?
posted by pgoes to Education (22 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh. I like these. (You can strip out any that are too "pop")

"The more the merrier" / "Two's company, three's a crowd"

"Look before you leap" also pairs with "Strike while the iron is hot"

"Birds of a feather flock together" / "Opposites attract"

"Que sera sera" / "Life is what you make it"

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained" / "Better safe than sorry"

"Beware of Greeks bearing gifts" / "Never look a gift horse in the mouth"

"The clothes maketh the man" / "Don't judge a book by its cover"

"You're never too old to learn" / "You can't teach an old dog new tricks"

"The pen is mightier than the sword" / "Actions speak louder than words"

Searching Google for pages that contain two contradictory sayings is likely to throw up a whole bunch more.
posted by Leon at 8:09 PM on September 12, 2005

an eye for an eye < --> turn the other cheek
posted by forforf at 8:09 PM on September 12, 2005

This list of proverbs from Bartleby is helpful:

It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game / Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing

Haste makes waste / Make hay while the sun shines
posted by jeanmari at 8:26 PM on September 12, 2005

If wishes were horses, beggers might ride. / The wish is the father of the deed.
posted by jeanmari at 8:32 PM on September 12, 2005

if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all / honesty is the best policy
posted by pyramid termite at 9:19 PM on September 12, 2005

Spare the rod, spoil the child.
posted by luriete at 10:24 PM on September 12, 2005

Courtesy of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot....

Listen not at keyholes, lest ye be vexed. / Forewarned is forearmed.
posted by Clay201 at 10:42 PM on September 12, 2005

It takes one to know one < --> You don't have to be a chicken to know a rotten egg.
posted by qwip at 11:07 PM on September 12, 2005

Oh, and..

Still waters run deep < --> The calm before the storm
posted by qwip at 11:09 PM on September 12, 2005

The end does not justify the means
All's well that ends well.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:12 PM on September 12, 2005

Great minds think alike < --> fools seldom differ.
posted by birdsquared at 11:30 PM on September 12, 2005

The early bird gets the worm, but it's the second mouse who gets the cheese.
posted by wsg at 1:14 AM on September 13, 2005

an eye for an eye: "one trick deserves another" fits here too with "turn the other cheek".
posted by brujita at 3:22 AM on September 13, 2005

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread < --> He who hesitates is lost.
posted by Morrigan at 6:32 AM on September 13, 2005

Knowledge is power / Power corrupts
posted by exogenous at 7:36 AM on September 13, 2005

The squeaking wheel gets the grease / The quacking duck gets shot.
posted by stoney at 7:44 AM on September 13, 2005

A Japanese friend recently pointed out the contrast between the Western proverb "the squeaky wheel gets the grease," and the Japanese proverb "the nail that sticks out shall be pounded down."
posted by Sara Anne at 9:17 AM on September 13, 2005

pgoes - Great question! I do this too. Here are a few more for you:

"Variety is the spice of life" / "Go with what you know"
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions" / "It's the thought that counts"
"The Devil is in the details" / "Don't sweat the small stuff"

Sorry - that last one is a bit "pop culture-ish"...
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 9:39 AM on September 13, 2005

"Blessed are the peacemakers"< --->"I come not to bring peace but a sword"
posted by zueod at 10:39 AM on September 13, 2005

And Judas went out and hanged himself.

Go thou and do likewise.
posted by KRS at 10:41 AM on September 13, 2005

Response by poster: Plenty, Plenty! thanks to all
posted by pgoes at 11:29 AM on September 13, 2005

I remember Readers Digest had such a list a couple of years ago. Is there a way to search their archives somehow?
posted by divabat at 6:47 PM on October 20, 2005

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