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Figures Of Speech That Confused You As A Kid


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I've always been confused about the idiom "you can't have your cake and eat it too" as a child, and I always told myself I'd look it up one day. I always thought to myself "How can you eat a cake that you don't have?". Now, many many years later, I've searched a lot of things online but I've always forgotten to look this up, and I actually owe it to this forum for reminding me to do so.

I looked it up on Wikipedia, and I'm very glad that I actually get it now.  :laugh:

The proverb literally means "you cannot both possess your cake and eat it", "you cannot eat the cake and keep it" or "you can't eat the cake and have it still".

Are there any English sayings that confused you as a kid?

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I remember growing up and being confused by some idioms which were visually quite striking, but at a time when I did not fully understand what figurative language was.

"Raining cats and dogs" is one such idiom.  It sounded dangerous to me -- that if I were outside I could get hit by a cat or dog falling from the sky! 

"A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" is another one that I thought was literally true.  :)

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"A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" is another one that I thought was literally true.  :)

As a kid I occasionally tried to figure out how far a rainbow might end and then tried to convince someone to take me there just so I could figure out if it was true. Nobody ever followed up on it though.

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This one did not really confuse me because I could deduce the meaning from the context, but it was interesting:

"Take it with a grain of salt."

What was confusing was that I didn't know what the significance of a grain of salt was.

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Looking back, I don't know how I did it as a kid but I was always able to figure out idioms on my own :smile:. What I couldn't understand though, is why most of the nursery rhymes had to be so untrue.For example, "Hey diddle diddle the cat and the fiddle the cow jumped over the moon...." :wacky:.

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I cannot think of any specifics (if I asked my sister or wife they would probably have some examples) but I do this all the time.  I overthink things, and unless I know it is a figure of speech or an idiom, I take it literally.

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"when it rains, it pours" meaning that when troubles come, they do not come alone.

Not always, but sometimes i can see this happening.

"There is a pot of Gold at the end of each rainbow" as a kid I thought this was true, and wondered why wasn't everyone going and getting their own pot of gold.

Very naive.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My mom used to say, "Never leave the house looking like a ragamuffin." I had no idea what a ragamuffin was, but it didn't sound good.

She also used to say, "I don't have a pot to piss in." I couldn't understand why anyone who pee in a pot where they cook food.

Love this thread.

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I remember growing up and being confused by some idioms which were visually quite striking, but at a time when I did not fully understand what figurative language was.

"Raining cats and dogs" is one such idiom.  It sounded dangerous to me -- that if I were outside I could get hit by a cat or dog falling from the sky! 

"A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow" is another one that I thought was literally true.  :)

I use to think that babies fall from the sky, Because when i was growing as a child and we as our mom. "where does baby comes from " She would say baby comes from sky?.

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I never realized the "cake" evoked so much though until I read this.  Guess I took it for granted and never really thought about it.

When I was younger slang for approaching a person or flirting was "hitting on".  I remember hearing my older siblings saying so and so was "hitting on" some other person.  My thought then was that they were literally assaulting a person and I remember being embarassed when I learned what it meant.

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I'm very much into Zen and Zen sayings in particular, even when I was little. When I was young, I read up a saying in Zen which said "The soft overcomes the hard, and the weak the strong". Now I was a kid at the time and my intuition wasn't all that great. I was more of a 'logical' child.

So I always pondered over 'how can the weak be stronger than the strong?'. It sounds weird right? But as I grew older and my Zen abilities enhanced this all cleared up. Looking back at it now, I can't believe how I manage to not understand the quote.

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I wasn't really confused by any figures of speech as a kid, as I didn't really pay attention to them. The only one I can think of (and I know it's not quite the same) is that my mum used to call me "speedy Gonzales" if I was being particularly slow, and it wasn't until many years later that I realised she wasn't saying "speedykins Alice".

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I agree with all the other posts here about "having your cake and eating it too".  I definitely wasn't even aware of this saying until my teenage years, until when I heard a friend say it.  I didn't have the faintest clue what he meant, but after asking around was able to discover its' meaning.  Felt like an idiot haha! :shy:

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