Friday, August 11, 2006

People who live in glass houses should not throw stones

Say what?
Those who are vulnerable should not attack others.

The proverb has been traced back to Geoffrey Chaucer's 'Troilus and Criseyde' (1385). George Herbert wrote in 1651: 'Whose house is of glass, must not throw stones at another.' This saying is first cited in the United States in 'William & Mary College Quarterly' (1710). Twenty-six later Benjamin Franklin wrote, 'Don't throw stones at your neighbors', if your own windows are glass.' 'To live in a glass house' is used as a figure of speech referring to vulnerability." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" (1996) by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

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lee woo said...

Throughout life people will make you mad, disrespect you and treat you bad. Let God deal with the things they do, cause hate in your heart will consume you too. See the link below for more info.


William Clukey Jr said...

Obama says this comes from the Bible! Lol

John Payne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MyThoughts said...

I idea - while not the idiom itself - is found in the Bible at John 8:7. The story of the women who the people wanted to stone & Jesus told them that those without sin should throw the first stones.

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sarah lee said...

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Jagdish Gangolly said...

"And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" Mathew 7:3.
King James Version

Brenda McAnear said...

Dorothy McGuire said it in the movie A SUMMER PLACE..I have never forgotten the quote or the movie. I saw it when I was 15 yrs old

Unknown said...

What is this saying considered ....just a phrase ? An idiom ? A proverb? I'm confused

A. Nonnie Mauz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. Nonnie Mauz said...

I know this reply is about 12 years too late... nevertheless:

The saying, “Those/People who live in glass houses shouldn’t cast/throw stones,” is properly defined as a proverb.

A phrase is simply an expression. A generic declaration that is neither distinct, nor special. Fleshed our in detail, I’d say that a phrase consists of words that are strung together by their speaker with the intention they be heard, conceived, and considered as interconnected to one another, yet separate from those around them. Beyond that there is really nothing more to describe the word “phrase.”

An idiom, on the other hand, IS a specific type of expression: one that is “particular to a specific person or group of people.” That, in contrast to the word “phrase,” is what makes it distinct/special. Think of it this way, you have a friend who has made a habit of saying “Heavens to Betsy, THAT was uncalled for!” Furthermore, neither you nor your friend know, or have ever known, another person who uses that expression. In that scenario your friends expression is an idiom. However, that same expression, when spoken for the first time by someone who doesn’t know your friend or anyone else who uses the phrase, no longer meets the criteria to be considered an idiom because it is no longer particular to a specific person or group. The fact that it is an idiom among some other group of people is just a coincidence. Thus, the label of “idiom” is highly conditional. Unless that condition is filled (that it’s particular to an individual or group), it is not possible for it to be considered an idiom.

Finally, a proverb is also a type of expression, specifically one that is (usually) short and pithy, in common use, and that aims to impart some wisdom, advice, or general truth to its audience. So, a proverb is special or unique because it has the quality of having a purpose, while other expressions do not. Whereas “phrase” and “idiom” are descriptors invented purely out of necessity [i.e. they do what all words do: associate a sound with a concept or experience (often one that is universal to all cultures), in order to facilitate the exchange of information between two or more people so as to aid them in their mutual cooperation which is, arguably, the most beneficial development our species has undergone since the first of our kind walked on the Earth], “proverb” differs in that it describes a concept most people, if not all people, would consider valuable and thus, would be interested in. That concept is “a general truth,” “a piece of advice,” and/or “a nugget of wisdom.” A proverb is a piece of information, knowledge, or wisdom that is taught, or passed on, from one person/group of people, to another. Pay attention to the action there, look at the verbs: to teach, to pass on. That is literally true for the word “proverb” as the root “pro” comes from the Latin “pro,” meaning, “to put forward.” So, why are the concepts that are described by proverbs worthy of being taught, or put forward? What makes the people who call a particular concept a “proverb” believe it should be tight or put forward? The answer is that those concepts have intrinsic value. They don’t just teach any random thing, they teach something relevant, or useful to the average listener. “Wait 15 minutes after eating before going into the pool” isn’t a proverb, because while it is widely said it is not actually true, and thus it isn’t valuable. However, “Red touch black, safe for Jack. Red touches yellow, kills a fellow,” which describes the band pattern for two similarly looking snakes of which only one is poisonous, is a proverb, because it is very valuable and has been spread far and wide, likely saving many lives. When information is valuable, it will spread. In fact, given a sufficiently long enough time scale, the distance a proverb has spread around the world is likely directly proportional to its importance.

OK, I think I’ve successfully imparted this wisdom to you. I apologize if it was TL;DR. I hope it wasn’t, and I hope it helped.