"There's an old saying..."

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sat Sep 1 14:08:24 UTC 2012

Maybe everyone already knows this but me (Charlie and Garson in
particular), but people seem to say "There's an old saying...." when what
they mean is something like, "I heard somebody say this, or something very
much like it, on one occasion, and it stuck in my mind because it's so
clever or succinct."

Seeming exmple from CNN the other day: "There's an old saying in the Army:
'The first thing to go bad is the plan.'"

Sound like a genuine proverb, right?  However, a Google search yields
nothing. Of course, I may have overlooked some slight variant that would
get 10,000 hits, but the principle still seems sound: for most people, it
only takes one utterance plus a good memory to turn a catchy generalization
an "old saying."


"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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