From Old Testament proverbs to modern phrases like "the best things in life are free," An Apple a Day takes a fun look at expressions that "have stood the test of time." Two heads are better than one: Like the less-familiar "Four eyes see better than two," this proverb extols the benefits of having someone else help you make up your mind-and it's a view that goes back to at least the fourteenth century. But while it is always useful to have a second opinion (A sounding board? Someone else to blame?) it might also be worth bearing in mind the disadvantages of design or decision-making by committee: something that really pleases no one. So whereas two heads may well be better than one, three could be a crowd. Laughter is the best medicine: This idea is an ancient one and is found in, appropriately, the book of Proverbs: "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones." It has prompted a surprising amount of research, with the result that some scientists claim that laughter has the same benefits as a mild workout-it stretches muscles, sends more oxygen to the tissues, and generally makes you feel healthier. One study even claims that laughing heartily for 10-15 minutes burns 50 calories. But let's pause for thought here. The world may laugh with you over a joke or a rerun of Seinfeld, but if you make a habit of laughing heartily for 10-15 minutes for no apparent reason, the world is going to think you are nuts and cross the street to avoid you. It may be worth striving for a happy medium. An apple a day keeps the doctor away: A common British folk saying, this is one of the few proverbs that can be taken at face value. All it means is that apples are good for you. The Romans knew this and so did the Anglo-Saxons, who listed the crabapple as one of the nine healing plants given to the world by the god Woden. They probably didn't know, as we now do, that apples contain fiber, antioxidants, and sundry vitamins and minerals that help to prevent osteoporosis, heart disease, and various forms of cancer. But they did know that they were cooling, cleansing, and soothing, whether taken as a natural diuretic or applied externally to inflammations. An anonymous medieval text called The Haven of Health recommended eating an apple to "relieve your feelings" if you were going to bed alone, while Ayurvedic medicine says that apples cure headaches and promote vitality. So the jury is out on whether or not apples are good for your sex life, but they are certainly good for pretty much everything else.
Read through from start to finish or search through the list of hundreds of the most common proverbs, arranged from A to Z for easy reference. You'll learn about each proverb's surprising origins, why some are valid and others are not, the derivation and meanings behind them, and their relevance in today's society.
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