A proverb is a short, pithy statement of a general truth. It condenses common experience into a memorable form. Miguel de Cervantes defined a proverb as “a short sentence based on long experience.”
Well, now there are sayings called anti-proverbs. Another name for anti-proverbs is perverbs since they are a perversion of the original.
Wolfgang Mieder, a professor of German and folklore at the University of Vermont, says anti-proverbs are “parodied, twisted, or fractured proverbs that reveal humorous or satirical speech play with traditional proverbial wisdom”.
I discovered these phrases while surfing the web recently. All of them combine parts of one real proverb with a part of another one.
Here are some examples of these funny sayings. I bet you can figure out the original proverbs.
- No news is the mother of invention
- What doesn’t kill you makes you stranger.
- Don’t count your chickens in midstream
- The road to Hell wasn’t paved in a day or the road to Hell is the spice of life.
- When in Rome, do it yourself.
- Beauty is the best policy.
- Once bitten, three’s a crowd.
- Absence speaks louder than words or absence makes the heart go wonder.
- One good turn is another man’s poison
- A miss is as good as a molehill.
- Virtue is its own punishment.
- .Here is a group of anti-proverbs relating to animals.
- You can lead a horse to water but you can’t have it both ways.
- A bird in the hand is a dangerous thing.
- The early worm gets picked first.
- It’s the early bird that makes the most noise.
- A rolling stone gets the worm.
- I especially like this one–Every dog has a silver lining.
Next, how about some sayings relating to food?
- Too many cooks are better than one.
- An apple a day is worth two in the bush.
- When life hands you lemons, don’t get mad—get even.
- When life hands you lemons, declare them as a loss on your next income tax return.
- There’s no such thing as a free lunch but there is always free cheese in a mousetrap.
- An onion a day keeps everyone away.
People have many wise sayings about money.
- A penny saved is a penny indeed or a penny saved is a penny taxed.
- All that glitters is not dull.
- A fool and his money is a friend indeed.
Lastly, I offer a timely and political anti-proverb. Laughter is the best medicine for when you cannot afford health insurance.
I will leave you with this— For every proverb, there is an equal and opposite proverb because all’s well that ends.