I have heard people say the phrase “nothing succeeds like success,” but I never understood the phrase. It is not a phrase that is common for me to hear, though. Thinking about it is still confusing. A success is something that happens the way somebody wants it to happen. This means that something has to happen the way somebody wants it to happen and that means it happens again. It seems that this goes against things like “try, try again” and “learn from your mistakes.” It seems like it is a phrase that perfectionists and overly strict parents would use.
However, when I look up the meaning of the phrase, it says that it means “success breeds further success.” I can understand this. One success in doing something allows for a person to continue with a task. Therefore that success can lead a person to another success until the whole project is finished.
An easy example is building a pyramid out of blocks. It can be a small three block pyramid. Two blocks are placed near each other. The third block is placed on top of the two blocks. However, if the first two blocks are not close enough together, the third block is going to fall. The two bottom blocks are at the wrong distance, so it is not a success.
The next time the pyramid is built,the two blocks are placed so they are side by side and close together. This is a success as there is no space where the third block will be able to fall between them. Then the third block is placed on top of the two blocks. This is a second success.
The phrase originated in the works of Sir Arthur Helps in 1868. He wrote Realmah which included the line, “Nothing succeeds like success.” The full text of Realmah can be found at Google Books .
There’s also an old corny joke, “nothing succeeds like a parrot without teeth.” It is incredibly corny for many reasons, the pun being the least of these. The main reason is that parrots don’t have teeth. There would be no reason to mention a parrot not having teeth. Then, there’s the pun of “succeeds” and “sucks seeds.”
Helps, S. A. (n.d.). Realmah – Google Books. Google Books . Retrieved February 1, 2011, from http://books.google.com/books?id=Y0oZAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=realmah&source=bl&ots=00YeAey-vx&sig=V-aIaGSNoQTwrLlecAlz1lz9RMs&hl=en&ei=z0BITeeFKML88AafpNTcBg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBMQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Martin, G. (n.d.). Nothing succeeds like success. The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases . Retrieved February 1, 2011, from http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/261100.html