Qui cessat esse melior cessat esse bonus.
This was the motto at a school I attended for five years. The usual translation is, “He who ceases to be better ceases to be good”, but it was a girls’ school.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
This proverb is listed in The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase, Saying and Quotation under the heading “Action”. It is no use making any resolutions at the New Year or any other time if you do not carry them out.
In good taste
is often applied to speech, particularly if a joke or remark is not in good taste.
A good talking to is usually about the offences or mistakes of a younger person. Hopefully the exercise benefits the listener.
Benefit is a lovely word, very much overused to describe money, but going back to its roots, bene is well and fit comes from the Latin verb facere to do. So if something is of benefit, it does well.
Incidentally, now I am getting technical, “good” is an adjective (or a noun, as in the next saying) and “well” is the corresponding adverb. In modern usage “good” is increasingly replacing “well”.
“How are you?” “I’m good, thank you.”
He’s too clever for his own good.
Cleverness has to be distinguished from wisdom. In a recent chidren’s talk during a church service the following distinction was made. A clever person can find a way out of a difficult situation. A wise one would have avoided the difficult situation.
Good things come in small packages.
A short lady once used this expression defensively and an unsympathetic colleague retorted “Like poison!”
For what it’s worth is often associated with phrases such as, “That’s my opinion”.
If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
I was brought up with this saying, where the emphasis is on high standards of, for example, workmanship. The person who gave the talk I mentioned above prefers to use badly instead of well. His reason – that it is better to do something than not to do it, in case it turns out not to be of the highest standard.
Don’t rest on your laurels.
Laurels here are (rewards for) past successes. They come from the awards to athletes in Ancient Rome.
Practice makes perfect
is another proverb, which needs no explanation.
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again
is another way of expressing the same idea.
is advice against acting unwisely.
Better late than never
can be an excuse, a forgiving attitude or grudging thanks.
It’s better than nothing.
Anything might be better than nothing!
Day by day I am getting better in every way
Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.
These are two versions of positive thinking. There was a radio programme recently about the author of one of them, Emile Coué. As he was French, these are probably two different translations! (And the radio programme link may not work indefinitely.)
Remember you’re as good as anyone else.
This is another saying I was brought up with.
F.W. Woolworth opened a store using the principle of selling each item for a penny (1d.). The idea caught on and for a long time almost every town in Britain had a Woolworth’s, although over the years the prices rose and diverged from the single price. A few years ago the company went into liquidation and in future it will be necessary to explain the saying “Woolworth’s best”, which was applied to something cheap and cheerful.
Mother knows best.
This is often, but not always the case.
Do your best; no-one can do any more
is a saying, which is difficult to argue against.
That’s the best I can do…
…but I’m not really satisfied with it!
Saving the best till last, was something I was complimented on in an earlier post.
In St John’s gospel chapter 2 verse 10 (NIV) The bridegroom at the wedding at Cana in Galilee was told, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now”. Click here to read the whole story.
How often have you heard that? And it is almost true, but Jesus (the one exception) challenged his disciples in St Matthew’s gospel Chapter 5 verse 48 (NIV) “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect.”