Trending: β€˜a stitch in time (saves nine)’

Lookups spiked 25,000% on September 22, 2020

Why are people looking up a stitch in time (saves nine)?

A stitch in time saves nine was among our top lookups on September 22, 2020, after Boris Johnson employed this turn of phrase in a speech.

For after a few token nods to the gravity of the situation – β€œa stitch in time saves nine” – Boris Johnson used his Commons statement to introduce a few minor tweaks to lockdown restrictions that rather suggested he wasn’t too bothered.
β€” John Crace, The Guardian (London, Eng.), 22 Sept. 2020

What does a stitch in time (saves nine) mean?

A stitch in time saves nine is an idiom, used to say that it is better to fix a problem when it is small than to wait and let it become a bigger problem. It has often been surmised that this saying comes from the practice of stitching clothing that needs mending sooner, rather than later. This may indeed be the case, but it is worth noting that our earliest evidence of use, from 1710, appears to not have a direct and literal connection to tailoring.

A Stitch in time saves nine, and the Woman shall look much tighter who her self takes care she be so, than she that trusts to any other to keep her so.
β€” Tusser redivivus: being part of Mr. Thomas Tusser's Five hundred points of husbandry, 1710

Trend Watch is a data-driven report on words people are looking up at much higher search rates than normal. While most trends can be traced back to the news or popular culture, our focus is on the lookup data rather than the events themselves.

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