Wednesday, May 17, 2023



Coulds, Woulda, Shoulda:

Back when Hillary Clinton was being taken to task on Whitewater, she was asked at a news conference about "the suggestion in the R.T.C. memorandum . . . you and your husband knew or should have known that Whitewater was not cash-flowing and that notes or debts should have been paid"? She replied "Shoulda, coulda, woulda. We didn't."

So what is the origin of the expression?

Although the words coulda, shoulda and woulda have been used separately since 1913, the 3 word combination (which commonly varies in the order used) is more recent. There is no written evidence of its use before the1960s.

Tips are plentiful around a race track, but not all of them are on or about a horse that "woulda, coulda, shoulda" or is "gonna" win.
—Louis Effrat, The New York Times, 17 Dec. 1961

Shoulda, coulda, woulda, oughta—but didn't! Call Bruce Caird Realty on these pieces of land before you utter these last words.
—(advt)The Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM), 12 Aug. 1978

Don't be accused of joining "The Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda but didn't Club."
—(advt) News-Press (Fort Myers, FL), 16 Dec. 1972

Coulda Woulda Shoulda is also a song by Celine Dion:


Blood is thicker than water:

Whilst at first glance this appears to mean that family and biological bonds are stronger and should come first, it actually comes from a meaning that is quite opposite.

The proverb that “Blood is thicker than water” is not the original full phrase. The original version is “Blood of the covenant is thicker than water of the womb.” Over time, the words “covenant” and “womb” were dropped, which gave rise to an alternative meaning whereby it expressed that family relationships are stronger than others.

In the above context the words are metonyms, figures of speech in which a word is used to refer to something larger – “blood” for family, “water” for all other relationships.

The original meaning, it has been suggested, is that soldiers who have shed blood together, the “blood of the covenant”, have stronger ties than family, the “water of the womb”.

From Shakespeare's Henry V when Henry addresses his troops before battle:

But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; . . .

Some other thoughts on it . . .


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