Welcome to the website woven for wordaholics, logolepts, and verbivores. Carnivores eat meat; herbivores eat plants and vegetables; verbivores devour words. If you are heels over head (as well as head over heels) in love with words, tarry here a while to graze or, perhaps, feast on the English language. Ours is the only language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway and your nose can run and your feet can smell.

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DEAR RICHARD: I grew up on a steady diet of proverbs. They aren’t heard as often nowadays, but they bring back memories of simpler times. -Bill Collins, Tierrasanta

A proverb is a concisely presented saying rooted in philosophical or religious truth. Just about everybody knows some proverbs, and we often base decisions on these instructive maxims. But when you compare proverbs that spout conflicting advice, you have to wonder if these beloved aphorisms aren’t simply personal observations masquerading as universal truths:

How can it be true that you should look before you leap, but make hay while the sun shines? It’s better to be safe than sorry; but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Haste makes waste, but he who hesitates is lost. Patience is a virtue, but opportunity knocks but once. Slow and steady wins the race, but gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, but faint heart never won fair maiden. A stitch in time saves nine, but better late than never. Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched, but forewarned is forearmed. Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today, but don’t cross that bridge until you come to it. There’s no time like the present, but well begun is half done. All things come to him who waits, but time and tide wait for no man, seize the day and strike while the iron is hot.

  • We often proclaim that actions speak louder than words, but at the same time we contend that the pen is mightier than the sword.
  • Beware of Greeks bearing gifts, but don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • There’s no place like home, home is where the heart is and don’t burn your bridges behind you; but the grass is always greener on the other side and a rolling stone gathers no moss.
  • A penny saved is a penny earned, but penny wise and pound foolish.
  • The best things in life are free, but you get what you pay for.
  • Quitters never win, and winners never quit, but quit while you’re ahead.
  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush; but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?
  • Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise because what you don’t know can’t hurt you; but it is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness because the unexamined life is not worth living.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth, and two’s company, but three’s a crowd. On the other hand, many hands make light work and two heads are better than one because the more the merrier.
  • If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again; but don’t beat a dead horse.
  • Fortune favors the brave, but discretion is the better part of valor.
  • Silence is golden, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words; but the squeaky wheel gets the grease and a word to the wise is sufficient.
  • Clothes make the man because seeing is believing and what you see is what you get. Beauty is only skin deep because appearances are deceiving, you can’t judge a book by its cover, still waters run deep and all that glitters is not gold.

So for better days ahead, all you have to do is figure out which proverb to use under which circumstances. Quite apparently, whichever side of an argument you take, you can usually find a proverb to support it. That’s why Miguel Cervantes wrote, “There is no proverb that is not true,” while Lady Montagu proclaimed that “general notions are generally wrong.”

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DEAR RICHARD: Regarding your recent column, please keep standing up for correct grammar. The prevalence of texting and short messaging has led to sloppy spelling and woeful grammar. When I graded electrical engineering lab reports at SDSU, I always warned my students at the outset that their report grades would depend not only on the correct analysis of the data, but also on clear explanations of how that data was collected and interpreted. Electrical Engineers are not exempted from being proficient writers. It was more work for me, but the more conscientious students appreciated and learned from my effort. –Andrew Szeto, Scripps Ranch