What Are Some Well-Known Sayings and Phrases?


Quick Answer

Well-known sayings and phrases include, "You can't always get what you want," "Monkey see, monkey do," "The pot calling the kettle black," "What's good for the goose is good for the gander" and "Out of the frying pan and into the fire." Many common idioms have been generated from music, poetry, literature and folklore.

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"You can't always get what you want" is a phrase commonly attributed to the song of the same name recorded by the British rock band The Rolling Stones. One of the popular origins of the phrase is that the character that says the phrase, Mr. Jimmy, was a drugstore owner in Excelsior, Minnesota during the band's first American tour in 1964. The band's lead singer, Mick Jagger, reportedly went to the store and ordered a cherry coke which at the time contained real cherries. He was informed that the store did not have any cherries and that "you can't always get what you want."

"Monkey see, monkey do" refers to human beings' tendency to copy others in a fashion similar to that of primates. The idiom is attributed to both Jamaican and Chinese folklore. Usually meant to point out a hypocrisy, the phrase "The pot calling the kettle black" was coined by Miguel de Cervantes in "Don Quixote."

A classic statement regarding sexual equality, "What's good for the goose is good for the gander" was derived from the English idiom "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." "From the frying pan into the fire" is how Italian author Laurentius Abstemius described going from a bad situation to a worse one in his collection of 100 fables.

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