A Dictionary of Proverbs (Oxford Paperback Reference)

(Marcin) #1

On the other hand, recent pithy expressions of universal predicaments (when all you have is
a hammer, everything looks like a nail) or general truths (justice delayed is justice denied)
demonstrate a good proverb’s ability to circulate, thrive, and evolve in a variety of contexts.
Cartoonists and humorists can assume the easy familiarity of their audience with proverbs, as
is shown by recent examples of the opera isn’t over till the fat lady sings and two heads are
better than one. Although proverbs may be used as clichés by the linguistically lazy, very
frequently they are used in contexts that show the user’s often sophisticated awareness of their

Over the years many people have been kind enough to demonstrate their interest in this
work by drawing my attention to proverbs or discussing them with me. Others, notably
William F. Deeck, have provided invaluable citations. I thank them all for their involvement
and encouragement.

Jennifer Speake
December 2007
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