Sayings that become common or part of the universal understanding of the world get that way because they have something to say that beckons to the human experience as a whole.
That said, these 7 common sayings might actually be saying the opposite of what you’ve come to believe.
1. Carpe diem
Carpe diem, quam minimum, credula postero.
Though the Latin is oft translated as “seize the day,” in its entirety, it reads “pluck the day, trusting as little as possible in the future.”
So, you’re not seizing the day and ignoring the future, but to do as much as you can today to ensure a good future. The original meaning, first seen in Horace’s Odes Book I, would have been used to espouse the idea that the day should be embraced fully to get the maximum amount of work done in the fields, etc, to ensure good crops come autumn.
2. Curiosity killed the cat
The actual phrase is “care killed the cat,” with “care” meaning “worry” or “sorrow.”
It was first seen in the play Every Man in His Humour in 1598, and would basically mean the opposite of what we’ve come to believe – that too much worry or moping isn’t good for one’s health.
3. Children should be seen and not heard
It’s actually “a maid should be seen but not heard,” which of course means that women should keep quiet in mixed company so the menfolk can talk.
It was first recorded in a 15th century collection of sermons by Augustinian clergyman John Mirk.
4. Blood is thicker than water
Though most of us think this refers to the blood that families share, it actually refers to the blood of the battlefield covenant being thicker than the water of the womb.
The blood that comrades in arms share is stronger than the one you share with your family back home, essentially, and once the covenant was made to each other, they were brothers for life.
5. Mend fences
Mending fences is considered a proverb to encourage apologies and making amends, but the full proverb says “good fences make good neighbors.”
So the original intention encourages building and respecting each other’s property and space to avoid disputes over land.
6. The devil is in the details
An older version of the proverb says that “god is in the detail,” and instead of a warning to beware overlooking mistakes in the minutiae of a project, it is a reminder that paying attention to small things could bring significant rewards.
7. Money is the root of all evil
Taken as said today, we could believe that money itself is the cause of all the wickedness in the world, but the original text, which says “the love of money is the root of all evil.”
What this means is not money itself, but people’s prioritization of them, is what is wicked.
Now you know!