A man cannot reel and spin at the same time

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celine713

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,everyone:
Here is a piece of proverb:
A man cannot reel and spin at the same time
that means, you wont get anywhere by doing two things at the same time, or, something like "one bird in the hand is worth two birds in the bush", right?
However, why put reel and spin together, which seem to be the same....
 
  • . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    This could be a play on words.
    A reel is a dance.
    To spin is related to making thread from wool.
    So a man can not work and play at the same time.

    .,,
     

    on a rose

    Senior Member
    I have never heard this "reel and spin" expression (and neither has Google), but I would guess it means that the man cannot do one task and take credit for doing two (as reeling and spinning are the same).
    "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" has an entirely different meaning, however: that the less valuable option in one's hand is equally or more favorable than the possibility of a more valuable option.
     

    Nunty

    Senior Member
    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    Hi,everyone:
    Here is a piece of proverb:
    A man cannot reel and spin at the same time
    that means, you wont get anywhere by doing two things at the same time, or, something like "one bird in the hand is worth two birds in the bush", right?
    However, why put reel and spin together, which seem to be the same....
    I have never heard the first expression, is it a Chinese one translated into English?

    The second, as been noted, is a familiar proverb. It means that whatever you have in your possession is more valuable than even its double that is not your possession.
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I wonder if reel and spin are referring to two actions on the same object, such as a spindle or a spool. You reel the wool onto the spindle, and you spin it off of it. Doing both at the same time would get you nowhere, because you would be winding and unwinding the thread at the same time.

    [edit]With a little googling, I think I have another clue. I believe I was close, but not quite right. It appears that spinning and reeling were two stages in creating wool yarn or thread.

    From a website describing life in an pioneer settlement:

    The wool was then taken and spun on a large wheel and when the spindle was full, the wool yard was then reeled on a big reel two yards around. It took forty threads to make one knot and then knots to make one skein. It took fifteen knots to make one yard of linsey. From the linsey, cloth, skirts, shirts, waists, and other clothing were made for men, women and children. The men usually wore jean trousers but some were luck to get buckskin.
     

    celine713

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    I have never heard this "reel and spin" expression (and neither has Google), but I would guess it means that the man cannot do one task and take credit for doing two (as reeling and spinning are the same).
    "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" has an entirely different meaning, however: that the less valuable option in one's hand is equally or more favorable than the possibility of a more valuable option.
    Hi, look at what I have found link just now!
     
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