Our Daily Bleg: One More Call for Wit and Wisdom

Here’s the most recent guest bleg from Fred Shapiro, editor of the Yale Book of Quotations. His past blegs can be found here.

Last week I blegged for examples of modern proverbs, like “Sh*t happens,” “It takes a village to raise a child,” “Different strokes for different folks,” “The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings,” “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch,” or “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Over 180 people responded, contributing excellent items that have previously eluded proverb dictionaries, such as “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup,” “Some days you’re the windshield, some days you’re the bug,” “Think outside the box,” and “Get busy living or get busy dying.” Sunday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an article about the bleg and the responses.

For next week, I have an even more compelling bleg planned, but for this week I want to make sure all the modern-proverbs fans have had their say.

Those of you who have so far refrained, please let us know your favorite pearls of contemporary wit and wisdom. All suggestions will be carefully considered for the forthcoming Yale Book of Modern Proverbs, to be published by Yale University Press.


1) Tomorrow is another day.
2) Children are our future.
3) Never eat yellow snow.
4) Money can't buy happiness.
5) If it ain't broke don't fix it.
6) Hindsight is 20/20.
7) Never assume; it makes an a** out of you and me.


1. Sometimes you get the elevator and sometimes you get the shaft.
2. I see better than I hear

Jim Miles

"You've got to fake it 'til you make it."

("playa" tagged on the end at the speaker's discretion.)

Clint Memo

- Only the last sequel looses money

- The total amount of human intelligence is fixed but the population is growing.

Arnold B

1. There's always someone who didn't get the memo.

2. (From my father) Locks only protect you from honest people.


Describing a situation that seems like a good idea, but is not: "That is like giving a monkey a gun".

It seems like it would be funny, but people will probably get hurt and the situation will not end well.

james roberts

re: #10 - the equivalent for England is:

the cobbler's children have no shoes.

from my grandmother:

'I see' said the blind man. But he couldn't see at all.

brian t

One my (Scottish) mother used to use: "it will all come out in the wash" meaning that things will sort themselves out.

I'm sure someone's already mentioned "before you judge a person, walk a mile in their shoes", but did they include Billy Connolly's version? It ends "... and after that, who cares? They're a mile away, and you have their shoes!"


"what does that have to do with the price of tea in china?"


Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Fred van West

Here are a few of mine:
*) Being 'right' is highly overrated.

*) Wisdom is learning from your mistakes. Profound wisdom is learning from the mistakes of others.

*) Optimism = 1 / Data. The limit as Data approaches infinity indicates Ignorance is Bliss.


it takes two hands to clap, but one hand to slap.
alternate version: it takes two legs to walk, but one leg to trip someone else.


It's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean.

Beggars can't be choosers.

Barton Fields

No good deed goes unpunished.


passed on from a producer of live TV: "It will either be good, or it will be over."


is as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
is as useless as tits on a boar pig.


Close enough for government work

You're not as green as you're cabbage-looking

Working hard or hardly working

Hot enough for ya?

I'm all right for a Wednesday

Wednesday is Hump Day

Thank god it's Friday

Hang in there baby

He who dies with the most toys, wins

Garbage in, garbage out

A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine

I have one nerve left and you're getting on it

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade

Always grease the skipper

All the REALLY modern proverbs are LOLcats and other online memes, you know, that's the language the teens and early twenties use, sometimes without irony.


"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

"When it rains, it pours."


Live every week like it's Shark Week.


If you're not confused, you don't understand what's going on.