Fly in the face of Providence

Silver

Senior Member
Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
Hello everyone, I came across a sentence from a Chinese English dictionary:

To act as you have done is to fly in the face of Providence.


Since I got this sentence merely by understanding the word “Providence”, I didn’t know indeed the phrase is an idiom, then I looked it up on some English dictionary, but it proved fruitless. Fortunately, the page automatically turned to a google-like search engine and I got a website talking about the meaning of the phrase:

http://www.bartelby.net/81/6644.html

Whereas I found out the meaning is different than my Chinese translation, the Chinese counterpart of the sentence is “To act as you have done is blasphemous”, so I want to ask my question here, which one is right? It seems both are correct, one is literal meaning while the other is what the phrase indicates, May I have your voice?


Thanks

 
  • Harry Batt

    Senior Member
    USA English
    I'm afraid that you can't use the literal meaning to explain your sentence. Fly in the face of Providence is like saying, "If you do it, you are going where angels fear to tread." That is another idiom which expresses the same result. You will fail and your failure will be fearsome.
     
    Last edited:

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    I'm afraid that you can't use the literal meaning to explain your sentence. Fly in the face of Providence is like saying, "If you do it, you are going where angels fear to tread." That is another idiom which expresses the same result. You will fail and your failure will be fearsome.

    Thank you very much, but by the way, it sounds a bit old-fashioned, or maybe only being used in some region? Anyway, thanks a lot.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Silverobama, the idiom is just 'fly in the face of': this can be found in a number of sources, like this one. You can put a number of possible items after that phrase, eg 'What you are doing flies in the face of reason', 'The television programme flies in the face of good taste'.

    The use of 'Providence' to refer to God is rather old-fashioned. You could say 'fly in the face of God/your Maker'. In saying 'to act as you have done is to fly in the face of Providence', the speaker criticises the hearer's actions as challenging the God who provides. One way of doing this is by acting rashly. So yes, both meanings are correct.
     

    Silver

    Senior Member
    Chinese,Cantonese,Sichuan dialect
    Silverobama, the idiom is just 'fly in the face of': this can be found in a number of sources, like this one. You can put a number of possible items after that phrase, eg 'What you are doing flies in the face of reason', 'The television programme flies in the face of good taste'.

    The use of 'Providence' to refer to God is rather old-fashioned. You could say 'fly in the face of God/your Maker'. In saying 'to act as you have done is to fly in the face of Providence', the speaker criticises the hearer's actions as challenging the God who provides. One way of doing this is by acting rashly. So yes, both meanings are correct.
    Oh, I see, thank you very much. But by speaking "fly in the face of Providence", would it imply a sense of blasphemy, more than "challenging"?
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    But by speaking "fly in the face of Providence", would it imply a sense of blasphemy, more than "challenging"?
    My definition of blasphemy is saying something that shows great disrespect for God. 'To act as you have done is to fly in the face of Providence' can be non-verbal (eg burning the Bible) or something that shows distrust in God's provision (eg getting money by cheating). I wouldn't call these blasphemy.
     
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