5 Famous Maxims And Their Origins

Do not be confused between a maxim and a saying by the way. These are synonyms of each other. Whereas, A maxim is an expression or quotation that includes a great deal of meaning. Like a proverb, kind of. The factual text or expression that someone else has said is simply a quote.

In today’s blog post let us jot down 5 famous maxims and their origins briefly.

It begins with,

Resting On Your Laurels

“Meanings”

Be so pleased with what one has already achieved or accomplished that no more effort is made.

“Origins”

The principle of “Resting on your laurels” goes back to ancient Greece’s leaders and sporting stars. The laurel leaves were closely linked to Apollo, the god of music, prophecy, and poetry, in Hellenic times. With a crown of laurel leaves, Apollo was usually portrayed, and the plant gradually became a symbol of rank and achievement. Victorious athletes received wreaths made of laurel branches at the ancient Pythian Games, and the Romans later adopted the tradition and presented wreaths to generals who won major battles. Thus, by basking in the glory of past successes, venerable Greeks and Romans, or “laureates,” were able to “rest on their laurels.” The term took on a negative connotation only later, and it has been used by those who are excessively pleased with past triumphs since the 1800s.

Paint The Town Red

“Meanings”

Go out and flamboyantly enjoy yourself.

“Origins”

Most possibly, the term “paint the town red” owes its roots to one famous drunken night. In 1837, on a night of drinking, the Marquis of Waterford, a known lush and trouble maker, led a party of friends through the English town of Melton Mowbray. After Waterford and his fellow revelers knocked over flowerpots, ripped knockers off doors, and smashed the windows of some of the town’s houses, the bender resulted in vandalism. The mob painted a tollgate, the doors of several homes, and a swan statue with red paint to top it all off. Melton was eventually paid for the damage by the Marquis and his pranksters, but their drunken escapade is probably the reason why “painting the town red” became slang for a wild night out. Another hypothesis also suggests that the term was originally born from the brothels of the American West, referring to men behaving as if their whole city were a red-light district.

Read The Riot Act

“Meanings”

This generally suggests that they have been found engaged in antisocial behavior and disciplined accordingly.

“Origins”

Angry parents these days can threaten to “read the riot act” to their unruly kids. But the Riot Act was a very real text in 18th-century England and it was frequently recited aloud to angry crowds. The Riot Act, passed in 1715, gave the British government the right to mark any party of more than 12 individuals as a threat to peace. A public official would read a small portion of the Riot Act under these situations and tell people to “disperse themselves and go to their homes peacefully.” Anyone who stayed after one hour was subjected to forceful arrest or expulsion. During the notorious Peterloo Massacre, in which a cavalry unit targeted a large group of demonstrators after they appeared to violate a reading of the Riot Act, the legislation was later put to the test in 1819.

Blood Is Thicker Than Water

“Meanings”

We mean that family ties are closer than those of strangers by saying,’ blood is thicker than water.’

“Origins”

There are suggestions that an earlier version of this phrase existed in 12th century Middle German and appears in the epic Reinhart Fuchs of Heinrich der Glîchezære, circa 1180. The English version of that text is translated as “Kin-blood is not spoiled by water, I even hear it said.” I have no access to the text in question, so that’s not something I can verify.

The text does not seem to be the same as ‘blood is thicker than water’ in English, but even though ‘kin-blood is not spoiled by water’ existed in 1180 in German, it is not apparent that they are the same proverb. In the 12th century, the Germans likely invented the proverb and it was extinct for 600 years before re-emerging in Scotland, but that seems less than probable.

Jump On The Bandwagon

“Meanings”

Enter a growing campaign in favor of someone or something when that movement is seen to have succeeded, sometimes in an opportunistic way.

“Origins”

In the mid 19th century, the term bandwagon was coined in the USA, simply as the name for the wagon that held a circus band. In his unambiguously titled autobiography, The Life of P.T. Barnum, Published by Himself, 1855, Phineas T. Barnum, the great showman, and circus owner, used the phrase in 1855:

“We sold all of our land conveyances at Vicksburg except four horses and the ‘band waggon.'”

To the bandwagon back. With the razzmatazz of a parade through town, complete with highly decorated bandwagons, circus workers were skilled at attracting the public. Politicians picked up on this way of gathering a crowd in the late 19th century and started using bandwagons while running for office.

By the 1890s, the change from the actual ‘jumping on a bandwagon to the figurative usage we know today, to demonstrate one’s alliance with a politician, was complete. In his Letters, 1899 (released 1951), Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt made a clear-cut reference to the practice:

“When I was once confident of a majority, they fell over each other to get on board the band waggon.”

That is all from today’s blog post.
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