The game is afoot

  • The game is afoot is a proverb that is hundreds of years old. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that may be a famous quote, an inspirational quote, an epigram, or the topic of a parable. These common sayings are language tools or figures of speech that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself because these common phrases and popular sayings are so well known. Certain phrases may be a metaphor or a quotation; but if it is a proverb, it is often-used and has a figurative meaning. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never; early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise; an apple a day keeps the doctor away; don’t cry over spilt milk; actions speak louder than words; haste makes waste, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth; and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the proverb the game is afoot, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.


    The game is afoot means that something is beginning, something has started, or a challenge has begun. The game is afoot implies that the thing that has begun or started is exciting and interesting. The phrase the game is afoot is derived from King Henry IV Part I, written by William Shakespeare in 1597: “Before the game is afoot, thou still let’st slip.” The proverb the game is afoot was popularized by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in his series of books and stories about the exploits of Sherlock Holmes, published at the turn of the twentieth century.



    Set in the ominous Boddy Manor, the guests are summoned to a mysterious dinner party and the game is afoot. (Chico Enterprise-Record)

    Millie Bobby Brown plays Sherlock’s sister and the game is afoot once more – with a twist (Times Picayune)

    THE game is afoot to find a new home for Sherlock Holmes in Portsmouth after a Stephen Fry-backed plan has foundered. (Portsmouth News)

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