Before the Internet, we couldn’t use memes to express ourselves. Instead, we used proverbs: Catchy lines that encapsulate universal truths. Some were introduced to the world by witty writers, and some seemed to emerge fully formed into the collective conscious. Many of them are still with us, but many more have fallen out of use over the centuries. Here are 11 that should really be brought back.
1. “As an apple to an oyster.”
Source: Thomas More, 1533
If you’ve ever been annoyed that apples and oranges are actually quite similar, this 16th-century phrase uses something very non-appley.
2. “Children are certain cares, but uncertain comforts.”
Source: John Clarke, 1639
You can bet you’re gonna have to change their diapers, but there’s no guarantee they’ll stick around to change yours. (Alternately, some take this to mean parenthood is extremely stressful.)
3. “Where cobwebs are plenty kisses are scarce.”
Source: Notes and Queries, 1864
Dirty houses are not sexy.
4. “He who would pun would pick a pocket."
Source: Benjamin Victor (quoting John Dennis), 1722
If you’re of such low character that the best jokes you can come up with are throwbacks from the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, there is nothing you won’t stoop to.
5. “A friend to all is a friend to none.”
Source: John Wodroephe, 1623
This is why we hate politicians. They have to morph to please so many types of people; they appear dishonest and false.
6. “Garlic makes a man wink, drink, and stink.”
Source: Thomas Nashe, 1594
Garlic inflames your lust, lures you to drunkenness, and makes your entire body smell like over-seasoned meat.
7. “Bachelor’s wives and maid’s children are well taught.”
Source: John Heywood, 1562
When you don’t have a spouse or a kid, you know everything about maintaining a healthy relationship with spouses and kids.
8. “We are born crying, live complaining, and die disappointed.”
Source: Thomas Fuller, 1732
You know all too well what this means.
9. “Gluttony kills more than the sword.”
Source: The Dialogues of Creatures Moralised, 1535
Even in 1535, overeating was still hardening arteries, enlarging hearts, and filling graveyards.
10. “You should know a man seven years before you stir his fire.”
Source: Charles Dibdin, 1803
Whether it’s a friend or significant other, you should make sure you know the person before you feel too at home at their place.
11. “The substance of a lady’s letter, it has been said, always is comprised in the postscript.”
Source: Maria Edgeworth, 1801
From your grandma to your girlfriend, all the preceding paragraphs about the health of pets and the obnoxiousness of Cindy from work mean nothing compared to the stuff after the “P.S.”