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Said the Old Lady as She Kissed the Cow

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Steve from Wilmington, North Carolina, wonders about a phrase his mother used: “Everybody to their taste,” said the old lady as she kissed the cow, meaning “Different things appeal to different individuals.” It’s an example of a Wellerism, a joking statement that consists of a familiar saying, a particular individual who says the phrase, and an additional twist at the end. Another example is “That’s one way to look at it,” said the mouse as she ran across the mirror. The term Wellerism was inspired by the beloved character Sam Weller from the Charles Dickens novel The Pickwick Papers (Bookshop|Amazon). Weller is forever saying things like “Hope our acquaintance may be a long one,” as the gentleman said to the five-pound note. Russian anti-proverbs have a similar twist. You might quote to a workaholic the Russian proverb that translates as One cannot earn all the money, but the anti-proverb is One cannot earn all the money — some of it will have to be stolen. This is part of a complete episode.

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