There are things we say without thinking about or knowing what they mean. “I could care less.” (Really. Then why do you sound so scornful?) “Penultimate.” (You know a prefix changes the meaning of a word, right?)
“Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” Grr.
This one’s bugged me for years. I grew up in the midst of dinosaur mania. I’ve seen the fossilized eggs. I knew what birds descended from. The second I stopped to think about it, I knew which came first. Whatever the first chicken’s parents were, they hatched from and laid eggs. That chicken had to wait in line.
It all seemed so transparent that anytime I heard somebody ask the well-worn question, I had to check whether I was dealing with a closet creationist.
Turns out I was wrong. Sort of. We didn’t know until recently. So, to everyone I’ve looked at funny over the years, I’m sorry. I was making assumptions I had no right to make. Please accept my humble apology.
But can we stop saying it now?