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    #1

    meanings of some proverbs

    Dear Teachers,

    I read some English proverbs and would like to know what they mean --

    1. Itch and ease can no man please.
    2. A knotty piece of timber must have smooth wedges.
    3. You must not let your mousetrap smell of cheese.
    4. No cut to unkindness.

    I can't find out their meanings by looking up the dictionary or searching on google. Can anybody do a little explanation for me?

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    #2

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    I've never heard any of these in 76 years as a native English speaker.

    I can't even guess at their meaning.

    Where did you find them?

  1. Roman55's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    I am not a teacher.

    I agree. The only one that is remotely similar to anything I'm familiar with is 4.

    Shakespeare's 'unkindest cut of all'.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by KuaiLe View Post
    3. You must not let your mousetrap smell of cheese.
    Why not?


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    #5

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    not a teacher

    Some quick Googling tells me that these proverbs are recorded in collections of such sayings dated as follows.
    1) 1793
    2) 1813
    3) 1812
    4) The only reference I can find in the form you've written it (but including a comma after 'cut'), is in an 1804 edition of Robert Burton's "The Anatomy of Melancholy", originally published in 1621.

    This suggests that each of these proverbs once had some currency, but it was all a long time ago.

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    #6

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    Why not?

    If I had to guess, I would suggest that a clever mouse knows all about traps being baited with cheese. So you have to make your traps be less obvious.

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    #7

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    ***** NOT A TEACHER *****


    Hello, Kuaile:

    NO, I do not have the answers, either.

    I was, however, able to find a smidgen (a little amount) of information that may interest you.

    1. In my opinion, I THINK that the usual word order is: "Itch and ease can please no man."

    2. I found in the "books" section of Google an old (1897) book by Herman Jensen.

    3. Mr. Jensen's book lists many Tamil proverbs.

    a. Tamil is a language spoken in southern India and in Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

    4. On this particular page:

    a. He first gives a proverb written in Tamil (which, of course, I could not read).
    b. He next gives what I assume is the English translation: "A hand that has laid hold of iron and a hand that has itch will not keep quiet."
    c. Then he gives the English proverb "Itch and ease can no man please."

    5. Here is the most important point: He lists those proverbs under the heading of restlessness.




    James

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    #8

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    Thanks for all your replies. Those proverbs are from John Ray's A Collection of English Proverbs. I guess they are just too outdated. But I did find an context to "No cut to unkindness" from the internet:

    " The gift of R. Spencer to
    W. Cornwall, 1685.
    Hands off, I pray, handle not,
    For I am blind and you can see.
    If you love me lend me not ;
    For fear of Breaking bend me not.
    No cut to unkindness, no woe to want.
    When means fail, friends grow scant."

    But ... even with the context, I still can't figure out what it means.

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    #9

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    If I had to guess, I would suggest that a clever mouse knows all about traps being baited with cheese. So you have to make your traps be less obvious.
    We had a cat. We didn't bother with mouse traps.


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    #10

    Re: meanings of some proverbs

    Cats ARE mousetraps.

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