The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs


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Compiled by Charles Clay Doyle, Wolfgang Mieder, and Fred R. Shapiro

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This extensive collection of proverbs, all coined after 1900, reflects the experiences and perplexities of the modern world

"You can't unring a bell." "It takes a village to raise a child." "Life is just a bowl of cherries." We sometimes think of proverbs as expressions of ancient wisdom, but in fact new proverbs are constantly arising. This unique volume is devoted exclusively to English-language proverbs that originated in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The most complete and accurate such collection ever compiled, The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs presents more than 1,400 individual proverbs gathered and researched with the help of electronic full-text databases not previously used for such a project.

Entries are organized alphabetically by key words, with information about the earliest datable appearance, origin, history, and meaning of each proverb. Mundane or sublime, serious or jocular, these memorable sayings represent virtually every aspect of the modern experience. Readers will find the book almost impossible to put down once opened; every page offers further proof of the immense vitality of proverbs and their colorful contributions to the oral traditions of today.

Charles Clay Doyle is associate professor of English and linguistics, University of Georgia, and past president of the Western States Folklore Society. He lives in Athens, GA.

Wolfgang Mieder is professor of German and folklore, University of Vermont. He is the author or editor of numerous books on proverbs and the founding editor of Proverbium: Yearbook of International Proverb Scholarship. He lives in Burlington, VT.

Fred R. Shapiro is associate librarian and lecturer in legal research at Yale Law School. He is author or editor of several previous books, including the The Yale Book of Quotations. He lives in New Haven, CT.

"An astounding masterwork that comprehensively documents the proverb as fundamental expressions of ourselves in contemporary culture and communication. More than that, this masterwork is a portal into the very idea of modernity"
--Simon J. Bronner, editor of the Encyclopedia of American Folklife

"This exhaustive and delightful study of contemporary proverbs offers succinct stories of expressions that have infiltrated our vernacular. Whether penned by politicians or rhymed by hip-hop artists, the evolution of each of the proverbs is documented with great care."—Patricia A. Turner, University of California-Davis

"Doyle, Mieder and Shapiro have their act together and tell it like it is, bringing the study of proverbs into the 21st Century."
--Jan Harold Brunvand, author of The Truth Never Stands in the Way of a Good Story.

“It’s a fabulous book, certainly the most enjoyable one I’ve read this year.”—Ben Yagoda, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Lingua Franca blog

"With its focus on proverbs that originated since 1900, this rich collection of 1,400 sayings drawn from newspapers, songs, and films is the first to use recently digitized sources to provide more accurate attributions.  Alphabetized by keyword with information about each proverb's earliest datable appearance, origin, history, and meaning, the work is endlessly entertaining."—Library Journal

Selected as a Choice Outstanding 2012 Title for Humanities within the Reference category.
ISBN: 9780300136029
Publication Date: May 22, 2012
312 pages, 7 x 9 1/4