Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Old Sayings…Reconsidered: "A Stitch in Time..."

“A stitch in time saves 9.” A wise English person first said that a long, long time ago.

“A stitch in time saves 9.”

It’s like time is this gigantic piece of fabric—and it has a hole in it. Worse: 9 is gonna fall through the hole unless it gets stitched up. Hence “A stitch in time saves 9.” You get it?

And this is not some idle saying, this is important stuff. Because what would we do without 9? No more baseball. No more 9 o’clock. No more “Cloud 9.” No more “The whole 9 yards.” 3 x 3 wouldn’t equal anything. And how would we get to 10? We’d have to build a bridge from 8 to get to 10. And only 8 people could work on it until it was done. And they better finish the job in 8 hours—or they’ll never finish it at all! We’re in big trouble if they don’t finish it.

Of course everything would be ok if 6 was 9. Then every time you need a 9, you could just reach back and grab a 6. You’d be like 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, reach back and grab the 6—6 is 9!—10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, reach back and grab the 9 that was 6—if 6 is 9 then it goes without saying that 9 is also 6, right?—and you’ve got your 16. And so on. This way you wouldn’t even have to bother stitching up time at all. You could just leave the hole right in it. There could be unforeseen advantages in this. It might even solve the energy crisis! If the hole came around and said, “Hey, where’s that 9 that was supposed to fall through me? That’s a 9 right there, isn’t it? Gimme that 9”. You could say “What, this? This isn’t a 9, this is a 6.” What’s the hole gonna do? You’re right—it is a 6.

That English person was pretty smart. But not as smart as Jimi Hendrix.


  1. From the Phrase Finder (http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/a-stitch-in-time.html)

    This is nothing to do with rips in the fabric of the space-time continuum, as some have ingeniously suggested. The meaning of this proverb is often requested at the Phrase Finder Discussion Forum, so I'll be explicit. The question usually asked is "saves nine what"? The stitch in time is simply the sewing up of a small hole in a piece of material and so saving the need for more stitching at a later date, when the hole has become larger, Clearly, the first users of this expression were referring to saving nine stitches.

  2. Thank you for calling me a genius!