Discussion in 'English Only' started by igma, Jun 17, 2010.
Just want to know if this expression is widely used in the US and UK as well.
This seems to be one of those old adages that our grandmothers used and which we (at least in my experience) all know, but never use because it has become trite as well as out of date.
Some people might use this. I am familiar with it but I don't use it.
I've never heard this.
I might, instead, say "a stitch in time saves nine".
it looks as if the proverb an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure has been replaced by a stitch in time saves nine.
That equally obsolescent adage is probably even more obscure these days since, I believe, more torn clothes are replaced these days than repaired ... as was the case in olden days from whence the adage comes.
"Prevention is better than cure" would be the modern equivalent.
I never know what to reply to this sort of question. Native speakers use these expressions every now and then, I suppose. I referred to this one recently in fact discussing with my "worse half" that he wasn't eating enough fruit and vegetables.
I started with a fleeting reference to the current "Five A Day" slogan. "We really aren't getting our " Five A Day", you know; "an apple a day" and all that .......".
I have the strong impression that younger people do not use these sayings. We "studied" them or were familiarised with them in junior school, with exercises such as
"Explain in simple English the meaning of the saying 'A rolling stone gathers no moss"." I am talking about 55 years ago. I doubt they were used that much in my parents' generation, certainly I can't recall my parents ever using one of them. But my grandma did: she died in 1963 aged 91!
Like Loob, I'd say that "A stitch in time saves nine" is more likely to be heard and more often used.
I find it hard to believe that there are more of these sayings in English than in other languages. Maybe it really is a particular feature of English, but why did I never have to study sayings in the other languages I know well, French and German.
Very well put !
They are mostly irrelevant these days.
Hmmm .... The truth of "A stitch in time saves nine" is not diminished by the fact that some people don't mend clothes any more. (Or is it simply that some people no longer possess the thrifty outlook expressed by this saying?) Though I have never in my life attached a horse to a cart, I intend to continue using the expression "To put the cart before the horse" because I don't know of any widely used expression that expresses the same idea in more "modern" terms and I don't run into any incomprehension when I use it, even though younger people have even less experience of horses and carts than me.
Most of these phrases show an anti-procrastination bias. I'm opposed to biases of all kinds. Procrastination can be a useful tool. I use it all the time.
Other anti-procrastination phrases are out there. Ben Franklin was famous for them, as were others:
Every duty which is bidden to wait returns with seven fresh duties at its back. ~Charles Kingsley
You may delay, but time will not. ~Benjamin Franklin
There may be an American/British difference here. I'd say "an ounce of prevention..." is much more common than "a stitch ...".
Could be. Google tells me (click) that "an ounce of prevention..." is actually a Benjamin Franklin quote.
I'll be frank and admit that "a stitch in time" always reminded me of "A Wrinkle in Time" and I never knew what it meant until just now when the comparison was drawn.
Needless to say, I agree that "an ounce of prevention" seems more common on the US side. I have actually quoted that one to be facetious at times, whereas I couldn't even explain the other one until today.
As a seventy plus year old, I am gaining the impression that expressions of this type are used less frequently than they were in my youth. Considering the many changes, including the introduction of television and computers, it would be remakable if things stayed the same!
The ounce off prevention and stitch in time expression were both widely used during my youth. Of course, we Australians followed British ways more closety at that time.
Having said that, I'm sure that preventitive maintenance for plant and equipment is more practiced these days...with the exception of those items under the "chuck away" banner.
I'm surprised to find that folks find the saying trite, out of date and irrelevant ... disappointed too. Some things are timeless, as truth is true ... this is one.
Of course, I still consider Pluto a planet.
Dr. Ben is widely credited with having so said but I suspect it's English and of older origin. Mama used both expressions ... I use the one but not the other as the "ounce to pound" notion has broader meaning than "one to sixteen." It's a shame we don't hear it more often these days ... maybe then, more folks would heed its message.
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