<< SOME ENGLISH PROVERBS EXPLAINED >>
1. Don't beat about the bush.
Come to the point without prevarication. In the past, when hunting, men used to hire "beaters" who used to walk round and beat the bushes to frighten the birds out.
2. You can't get blood out of a stone.
If there's nothing to discover, it's no use trying to discover it. You may beat someone to find the truth, but it's a waste of time if he knows nothing.
3. A rolling stone gathers no moss.
If you keep moving around, you don't get any responsibilities.
4. He who pays the piper calls the tune.
The person who pays the bill is the person who makes the decisions.
5. Birds of a feather flock together.
People of the same group support each other.
6. He always keeps his cards close to his chest.
He's reticent, and doesn't easily give secrets away. From card games where you hold your cards close to your chest to stop others seeing them, of course.
7. Let's get down to brass tacks.
No prevarication - come to the point (see No.1)
8. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
If you're vulnerable in defence, you should be careful about attacking.
9. You made your bed - now you must lie in it!
You made the decisions, now you have to suffer the consequences.
10. Blood is thicker than water.
If a choice has to be made, people of the same family group tend to stick together.
11. All that glitters is not gold.
Just because it seems attractive, it doesn't mean it's the genuine article, or the right thing.
12. A stitch in time saves nine.
The sooner you repair something broken, the less work you'll have to do later.
13. It never rains but it pours.
It doesn't happen for a long time, then a number of times! Like London buses: you wait 20 minutes for a number 9, and then 3 number 9's appear!
14. One man's meat is another man's poison.
Just because something suits one person, it doesn't mean that it will suit another.
15. A miss is as good as a mile.
If you miss something by a very small margin, it's as if you missed it by a long way.
16. Every cloud has a silver lining.
If something bad happens, it must surely have some good aspects, too (see 19).
17. Make hay while the sun shines.
Or, while he cat's away, the mice will play!
18. Strike while the iron's hot.
When the moment is appropriate, use it.
19. It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.
If something bad happens, someone somewhere usually benefits. If no one at all gets anything positive from it, it must indeed be an ill, or evil, wind.
20. Live and let live.
Let people get on with their lives without interference, while you get on with your own. The title of a famous James Bond film was "Live and Let Die"
21. Mind your P's and Q's.
Be careful what you say In old times, in a pub before the quantity of beer was fixed at a pint, people used to order a pint or a quart (a quarter of a gallon) and the landlord would have a slate where he wrote P for pint and Q for quart so he would know what to charge at the end of the evening. The person drinking would have to mind (think about) his P's and Q's - that is, how much he had drunk.
22. To get the answer you must cut through all the red tape.
All the bureaucracy. Solicitors used to tie up all their files in red tape.
23. He did the dirty on me. He sold me down the river!
Let someone else know all my secrets, betrayed me. Slavemasters used to sell unruly slaves to rougher farms further down the Mississippi river
24. To gain a victory we'll have to pull out all the stops!
Do everything necessary. You pull out the stops on an organ to make the music louder.