Tree Tips

Proverbially Speaking . . .

Trees form an important part of our lives.  We are surrounded by trees both outside our homes and towns and also in our homes itself – wooden flooring, paneling, furniture, etc. Wood is also a part of our culture and language.  Trees and reference to trees are found in numerous sayings and idioms that we use and may not even associate their meanings to trees or wood.  A nice little indoor activity on a cold, winter day is to look at some of these sayings, proverbs, and figures of speech and see what they really mean and maybe where they come from.

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow – This is probably a familiar saying meaning great or large things can start with very small beginnings.

Easy as falling off a log – something that is easy or simple to do.  Logs are rounded and if you’ve ever walked on one, it isn’t easy to stay on one.

Like a bump on a log – Not doing anything, just sitting around while others work.

As the twig is bent, so the branch of tree grows – things that affect people in childhood affect the way they turn out as adults.

Little stroke fell mighty oaks – If something may seem impossible, breaking it up into little parts or taking it one step at a time may mean success.

Turn a new leaf – Refers to starting over with a new beginning.  This refers to the tree sprouting new leaves in the spring.

Take root or put down roots – This means for an idea or something to become accepted or established.  This also applies to tree growth as a tree puts out roots as it first starts sprouting and continues to grow.

Go out on a limb – Another tree anatomy saying that means to take a risk and comes from the fact that tree limbs may be small and fragile.

Can’t see the forest for the trees – This is an  interesting saying many people use which means someone is too focused on minor details and that he or she cannot see the overall larger picture.

Barking up the wrong tree – This is another interested saying that means to completely misunderstand something or be totally wrong.  This saying has an interesting background.  It refers to hunting dogs that would tree a quarry which would jump to another tree or escape, but the dogs wouldn’t realize it and keep on barking at the wrong tree.

Knock on wood – This means good luck or protection from something bad happening.  Some think that this saying goes back to ancient peoples who thought good spirits lived in trees.  They would knock on the tree to wake the spirits up to insure protection from evil or misfortune.

Out of the woods – An idiom that means to get out of a bad or dangerous situation.  It has a negative connotation about trees, but probably goes back to pioneer times when people were surrounded by huge forests that were frightening with many dangers, such as wild animals and Native Americans.

These are a few of the many idioms with trees that we use without thinking about them.  But they all are another part of the trees around us.

If you have questions or concerns, feel free to contact the Vermilion Tree Commission by contacting Anne Maiden at the Mayor’s Office at or at 440-204-2402.  You are also cordially invited to attend our monthly Tree Commission meeting which is on the second Wednesday of the month. The Tree Commission will meet at the Ritter Public Library on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, at 9:30 AM.



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