Where Have All The Clever Literate Sayings Gone?

A rolling stone gathers no moss.

It was the phrase that launched a thousand ships, if by “ships” I mean a whole bunch of other clever literate sayings like “don’t throw rocks in glass houses,” “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” The kinds of sayings that require a little bit of research, a little bit of smarts and a little bit of plain ‘ol everyday muscle grease to get to the bottom of their meanings. And yet here we find ourselves in 2007 with hardly any new ones to impress our friends with.

And so I say — where have all the clever literate sayings gone?

I could sit here for hours and list off hundreds of these wonderfully-witty, clever little sayings whose origins go way back into the history of this country and others. But rather than doom ourselves to live in the past, why not look to the future in crafting our own set of brand new phrases? Why not take the initiative and leave our children and their children a figurative box of sayings that will confound and confuse a whole new generation of saying-sayers?

Like, “Imaginary friends are nothing without a bluetooth headset.” At first, this brand new clever literate saying might confuse. People might think you’re referring to the fact that children with their own imaginary friends cannot exist without their own cell phone and headset. But in reality, this brand new saying is a commentary on a world where most people now have conversations with non-physical entities. That people wander these lands talking to thin air, rather than conversing with the people right next to them.

Or what about the saying A midget on prescription drugs may never find himself.” This saying, of course, taps right into the social zeitgeist of today’s youth — commenting on the drug parties of adolescents who hope to find their inner self by abusing drugs and pooling their parents prescription drugs and mixing cocktails of vicodin and cialis. And yet at the same time, such a saying amuses and inspires society to do better.

What of the brand-new clever literate saying, “A man who is more comfortable on his head is more valuable than a man on his feet?” Aaah, this one is extremely meaningful, as it communicates a very important concept. That a man who finds himself at ease with a life turned upside down is far more valuable than one who lives his entire life just like everyone else, on his feet. That a creative, spontaneous, danger-seeking man will, in the end, find more value to his life.

See? Look at us? I spit in the face of rolling stone, rock in glass houses and birds in the bush. It’s about time such antiquated sayings took a back seat to similarly clever sayings that actually make sense in today’s day and age. That tap into the fads and the taglines. Like these:

  • “Sanjaya is my jambalaya.”: While initially referencing American Idol‘s quirky performer, this saying uses what’s hot today to make a very important point about living life. That being different means being many different things (i.e. the jambalaya). That if you want to make your mark, make sure you’re made up of a bit of rice (brains), some shrimp (soul), chicken (body) and vegetables (your own unique opinions). Being jambalaya in this world is the way to go.
  • “Goodnight my sweet Anna baby.”: While pulled from the true-life story of Anna Nicole Smith (and coined by her ex-lover Larry Birkhead), this saying will have more meaning than ever before. Here, it is not just a way to say goodnight to someone but refers to something far more important. Because “Anna” is the same word forwards as it is backwards, the word “ANNA” actually refers to things that can be seen the same way from all angles — thus, this saying asks that the babies entering this world remember to always look at things from all angles before making any rash decisions. Look at the world from all angles, baby — is what this clever literate saying shall mean from this day forth.
  • “Snakes on a plane of existence.”: A play on words, what once was a title of a mediocre movie becomes a clever saying about God, the Garden of Eden and existence at its most basic level. While there are many meanings one could glean from this saying, there is one that is more timeless than any. There are evil forces around us, that exist on all planes — and, um, Southwest Airlines has planes too. And they serve peanuts on their planes. And snakes don’t eat peanuts. So, um, evil people who eat peanuts and ride on Southwest Airlines are to be feared! Yes. Yeah. That’s it!

As you can see, there’s a lot of room in today’s day and age for us to create brand new sayings that stand strong in the face of “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” and “teach a man to fish.”

Yes. The possibilities are endless.

9 comments on “Where Have All The Clever Literate Sayings Gone?

  1. Kathleen - April 6, 2007 at 7:39 am -

    I have sayings…

    I just choose to not share them online—because they’re really good.

  2. Pauly D - April 6, 2007 at 7:48 am -

    Kat – I find that awfully hard to believe. Or maybe I should say this to you in a brand-new saying kind of way: “Those who say they have really good sayings are also really good liars.”

  3. Word - April 6, 2007 at 9:50 am -

    Where have all the clever literate sayings gone? To WFME, of course.
    My contribution:
    “A fool and his money should have gotten a pre-nup” and
    “New is the new new.”

  4. jacquie - April 6, 2007 at 10:36 am -

    Wouldn’t that be something if we all (that is, your readers) started using these new expressions and one day, years from now, someone used one in your presence, not even knowing that you were the start of it all? It’s kinda like those Bob stickers.

  5. jacquie - April 6, 2007 at 10:39 am -

    Since I’m all willing to be the first to start incorporating these new sayings, I would like it if you would say, “The world is a lot smaller thanks to BOB”.

    Lets see how long it takes to get back to each other.

  6. Amy - April 6, 2007 at 5:40 pm -

    “Those who go to bed with itchy butt, wake up with smelly fingers.”

  7. Pauly D - April 7, 2007 at 2:13 am -

    Word – I absolutely LOVE “New is the new new”!

    Jacquie – I was out tonight and people were already using this, but attributing it to someone other than you. Curious, don’t you think?

    Amy – I won’t even touch that one with my clean fingers.

  8. jacquie - April 9, 2007 at 6:04 pm -

    I have lots of friends. what can I say?

  9. jacquie - April 9, 2007 at 6:05 pm -


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