[Ads-l] Adage: The things that count cannot be counted (June 29, 1932)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Dec 28 02:39:50 EST 2016

I received a request to revisit a popular quotation incorrectly
attributed to Albert Einstein which is listed in The Dictionary of
Modern Proverbs (DMP) and on the Quote Investigator website. (And many
other places.)


The statement consists of two parallel and contrasting phrases:

 (1) Not everything that can be counted counts.
 (2) Not everything that counts can be counted.

The first citation in DMP is a 1955 extremal precursor for part (1) of
the form: "The things which count cannot be counted". Now I've located
a similar precursor in 1932.

[ref] 1932 June 29, Middletown Times Herald, Editorial: Wrong
Emphasis, Quote Page 7, Column 2, Middletown, New York.

[Begin excerpt]
The things that count cannot be counted. If price tags were the norm
of many of our possessions the full value of them, to us at least,
would be immediately determined. But values are not determined by
price tags,—not for those who understand and appreciate and can see
beneath the surface of things.
[End excerpt]


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

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