Why do my cliche origin books continue to sell?

Back in 2010 I had been curious about the origins of popular metaphors and adages that we all use and never think about how they got started. I started searching through the Internet, looking at books, etc., and found much conflicting information. One problem was what is known as ‘Folk etymology,’ nice little stories, often made up or passed down which “held no water.’ So I decided to do some serious study. I needed to debunk myths. Over the next year I put a collection of a few hundred together, adding a bit of humor, and published a book titled On the Origin of the Cliches and the Evolution of Idioms. This was a facetious take off on Darwin’s  Origin of the Species. I was pleasantly surprised at the number that started selling. I followed it up the next year with a second volume. Then in 2013 I unpublished the second volume after introducing a huge book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions,, which grew to 740 pages with revisions over the next two years. Amazon called it a ‘hot new release,’ and it took off ‘right out of the gate.’

A second volume of that book has new been released. My cliche origin books have sold thousands of copies, both paperbacks and Kindle e-books, in seven countries around the globe. They have received high acclaim and have been used in colleges, and as reference works. They have been used to teach English as a second language.

My research goes on. I am working on a third and final volume for this series which I feel even rivals the original for originality and content. It will have around 1,400 new sayings and phrases, with many proverbs and Southern Americanisms. It is due out in 2019. Here is one I researched today:

Fixing to (or, ‘fixin’ to’)

This largely Southern American idiom means that one is in the process of planning to do something: getting ready to. Even before it was used in the South,  fix, from the Latin ‘fixus’ (settled), evolved in the U.K. between the 14th and 17th centuries from meaning attaching or settling something to adjusting or arranging things. It only became primarily used for repairing something in the 18th century. But the idea remained as arranging things, or ‘setting one’s mind.’ Similar citations appear earlier, but this one from Testimony Taken by the Joint Select Committee to Inquire into the Condition of Affairs: The Late Insurrectionary States, Georgia, Volume II, published in Washington, D.C., 1872, on page 648 is very clear as to context:

“I thought perhaps they were fixing to get my mare and carry her off.”

This connotation remained with the Scotch Irish and English who had immigrated to the American South, and particularly, from Appalachia to Texas, where ‘fixing to’ is still used today.

BUT don’t wait two years. Get the first two volumes on Amazon today. They are selling because they are different, and more nearly accurate.

Another Comic Strip Salutes a Proverb

As many of you know, I love reading the “intelligence page” (another cliche) of our local paper. Now that we’ve been subscribing for the past several months, I even glance at the small ones on the puzzle page. This morning The Born Loser, one of my favorite strips, had Thornapple saying to his wife, “They say an apple a day keeps the doctor a day, right?” Then he says, “So, what would happen if I ate two apples a day?”

His wife’s expression remained nonchalant as she replied, “You’d get diarrhea.”

The origin of this well-known proverb is found in Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions on page 25:

 apple a day keeps the doctor away, An

Reference to this was initially found in a Welsh folk proverb.”Eat an apple on going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from eating his bread.” The phrase was first coined as we know it in the U.S. in 1913 by Elizabeth Wright in Rustic Speech and Folk-lore

“Ait a happle avore gwain to bed, An’ you’ll make the doctor beg his bread; or as the more popular version runs: An apple a day Keeps the doctor away.” 

Sales of this popular book continue each and every month, Get yours today at



An eye for an eye? Where did this really come from?

There are a lot of people who obviously think this saying, and teaching came from Christianity, or more likely, from ancient Judaism. Some may even think it originated with Islam. None of this is true.

On page 171 of Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions you will find the following explanation:

eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, An  

This is an ancient Babylonian philosophy and legal code called the Code of Hammurabi (1780 B.C.). ‘An eye for an eye’ is found in several passages in the Hebrew Bible, and refers to just punishment based on the crime.  This principle has been a basic factor considered in the formation of laws of countries for thousands of years, including Judaism, ancient Roman law, British Common Law, and a consideration in the American Justice System.

Jesus, however, is quoted as saying in the ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Mathew 5:38-39, RSV)

The sentiments of Jesus have been carried forward by modern non conformists.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “An-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye-for-an-eye … ends in making everybody blind.” – Louis Fischer, The Yale book of quotations, Fred R. Shapiro, 2006

Martin Luther King concurred with Gandhi when he later used this phrase in the context of racial violence: “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.” – The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Coretta Scott King

This book, containing many hundreds of phrase, proverb and expression origins is available on Amazon worldwide in both paperback and Kindle e-book, as well as on http://stclairpublications.com.

If at first you don’t succeed…

I dare say that everyone reading this post can finish this proverb. I heard it from my mother, she heard it from hers, and it goes back for generations. And it is really great advice. If we give up to easily we will miss the sweet smell of success. My latest tome, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions tells where this old axiom came from. It’s found at the bottom of page 264 (of 730 pages):

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

This proverb first appeared in Teacher’s Manual in 1840 by American educator Thomas H. Palmer who wrote:

“‘Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Some sources believe that the phrase dates to well before this, to the time of Robert I of Scotland, best known as Robert the Bruce, the fourteenth-century king popularized in the movie Brave Heart, who suffered a major defeat at the hands of the English. Legend says that he then hid in a cave near Gretna, close to the border of Scotland and England. While there, according to legend, he watched a spider attempting to spin a web. Each time the spider failed, it simply began again. So inspired was the Bruce by the little arachnid that he left the cave and returned to lead his troops in a series of victories against the English. Whether Bruce actually used the phrase is questionable, but the tale may have inspired Palmer.

The saying was brought into popular culture by British hymnist, educational writer and Westminster Review editor, William ‘Edward’ Hickson in 1857 when the entire quote from Palmer was used in his Moral Song. It is now applicable to much more than lessons in school.


This book is being sought after and purchased online around the world every day. If you don’t have a copy yet, you can get either a paperback or a Kindle e book on Amazon.com, or you can get a copy direct from stclairpublications.com. You can even ask your favorite bookstore to get one from you. Why it’s right on their computer to order!

Any job worth doing is worth doing well

I’ve been very busy this week preparing for events of which I am in charge this month for Kiwanis. Kiwanis is a worldwide service organization whose motto is “Serving the children of the world.” It has been my great joy to be a charter member of my club which was chartered in 1984.  I am serving as President this year, (a position I have held from time to time over the past 29 years) and will be going in as Lt. Governor of my District in October. But my duties are already beginning, and I am scheduled to speak at a luncheon meeting at one of the clubs today.

It has always been my belief that ‘any job worth doing is worth doing well.’ It’s something a lot of us heard from our parents, they heard from theirs, and back many generations. It is one of a multitude of old proverbs in my book, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and figurative Expressions. I want to share this snippet from the book:

Any job worth doing is worth doing well

A number of Internet sites attribute the coining of this proverb to Dave Vanderbeck of Yardville, New Jersey in 1850.

Actually, this is an old proverb dating back to at least the eighteenth century. The Earl of Chesterfield, in a letter to his son in October, 1746 wrote the following:

“Care and application are necessary… In truth, whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well.”
[1746 Chesterfield Letter 9 Oct. (Published 1932) III. 783]

Since it is an axiom, the meaning is clear. Later it was used by other authors, including H.G. Wells in Bealby in 1915:

“‘If a thing’s worth doing at all,’ said the professor, ‘it’s worth doing well.’”

This is only a small sample to the many sayings that are incorrectly attributed by a number of sources. If you haven’t gotten your copy, today you may get it as cheaply as FREE on Kindle if you are an Amazon Prime member.

I am going to make an honest effort to be the best Kiwanis Lt. Governor that I can. Like everybody else, I’m not perfect, but I do put in effort.

The same is true when I release a book which we have prepared for publication. There have only been two books released by us that we did not prepare. If you choose St. Clair Publications for your book, we pledge the best value in the POD publishing market today. And you can ‘put that in your pipe and smoke it.’..or ‘take it to the bank,’ which ever you prefer!


Amazon special–get it while the getting is good

Amazon has a proven way of marketing that stirs up a lot of attention. When a new item comes out which shows promise they will sometimes offer an outstanding value to ‘get things moving’. This was the case with my initial cliche book, On the Origin of the Cliches and Evolution of Idioms. It became a top seller in its genre.

Now they have done the same for a limited time with my new, much expanded 730 page, small print tome, Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs  and Figurative Expressions.

This book, containing a treasure trove of information, has been called ‘a masterpiece’ and ‘extraordinary’ by learned persons who have contacted me. It took me almost three years, including research on the previous books which was included in this one, to put it together. Now it is out in both paperback and Kindle versions. It can be had ‘for a song’. Suggested retail is $27.95 for the hard copy and it is now selling, for a short time only, for $17.84 on Amazon. The Kindle is a low $5.95, and if you are a member of Amazon Prime, you can borrow it FREE!

This carefully researched book, which dissolves myths and exposes misquotes, will never be less expensive. But without my loyal readers, who are my inspiration I could not have put it together in the first place. Get it while the getting is good!

New virtual library of cliche origins finally released!

The long wait is over! Most Comprehensive Origins of Cliches, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions is finally available!

Here is the description found on Amazon:

In what may just be the most detailed, accurate and comprehensive book of its type ever published, Stanley J. St. Clair, author of On the Origin of the Clichés and Evolution of Idioms, delves deep into the history of phrases and common English expressions, exposing numerous misconceptions and previously published origins.  

By enlarging the page size, using smaller print, and removing the illustrations and humorous antidotes, St. Clair is able to include all of the entries in his two previous volumes and double the combined number in this remarkable work.

Many of our common catchphrases are actually misquotes, often even attributed wrongly. Did you know that “Me Tarzan, you Jane” was never used in any Tarzan book or movie? Are you aware of the fact that “Elementary, my dear Watson” never appeared in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes novels? Then from where did these quotes originate?   

Did you know that “umpteenth time” was in use almost 100 years before top printed sources claim? Did you know that “The good Lord willing and the Creeks don’t rise” had nothing to do with streams of water? Did you know that “How do you like them apples?” was not referring to the fruit, and that the date of its first appearance is often misquoted?

Unlike most phrase dictionaries, in many cases this work not only gives the definition and most likely origin, but early citations as well. With entries as ancient as “By the skin of my teeth” to as new as “Kicking the can down the road,” this comprehensive work is sure to appeal to seekers of truth everywhere. The author welcomes your comments.  

Be among the first to order your copy today at: 


Reviews encouraged!

The wisdom of ancient proverbs

A number of ancient proverbs have been mis-atributed to famous persons of our day.

One such saying is: Turn your face toward the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

This bit of wisdom is a Maori Proverb from the aboriginal natives of New Zealand. Canadian politician Charlotte Whitton made it popular, thus many have attributed it to her.

The sun is the primary source of light, and represents positive energy. It means that when you are looking at the light, metaphorically speaking, negativity falls away from you.   

Staying positive will make a marked difference in anyone’s life. Proverbs of ancient civilizations can be an encouragement to each of us. Solomon, a king of Ancient Israel, is often called ‘the wisest man who ever lived.’ Many sayings written by him are recorded in a book called Proverbs in the Tanakh, also known as the Old Testament.  

Have a great day!