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Two wrongs don’t make a right

  • Two wrongs don’t make a right is a proverb. 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 two wrongs don’t make a right, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

     

    The phrase two wrongs don’t make a right means one is not justified in performing a misdeed simply because someone else has performed a misdeed. Two wrongs don’t make a right admonishes the listener to not to try exact revenge, because no good will come of it. The proverb is often quoted to children who seek revenge on someone who has wronged them. The expression two wrongs don’t make a right dates to the 1700s; Benjamin Rush, one of the signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence is credited with citing the sentiment in a letter in 1783.

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    Examples

    The principle the court applied is sound, and it’s a fundamental cornerstone of our justice system: two wrongs don’t make a right. (Reuters)

    Two wrongs don’t make a right but Putin’s Russia and Biden’s United States are right about each other’s suppression of dissent and crackdown on opposition – helped in both countries by a compliant news media, and in the US, a self-important and hypocritical press at that. (South China Morning Post)

    Fair enough, though count me in on the two-wrongs-don’t-make-a-right school of jurisprudence. (Washington Post)


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