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Make a mountain out of a molehill

刊登日期: 2019.02.22
作者: Grace Tse  

Have you ever wondered why people get into an argument or a fight with a stranger in public? Sometimes the causes are very trivial, such as sitting in the wrong seats on a train, being stared at in the street or being bumped into on a crowded bus. Psychologists are interested to find out why people tend to over-react or “make a mountain out of a molehill”. 

In this idiomatic expression, a “molehill” is a small pile of earth pushed up to the surface of the ground by a mole digging a tunnel. Imagine what it implies when someone turns a molehill into a mountain. It means that the person exaggerates a tiny, unimportant issue into a big, serious problem. 

Stop making a mountain out of a molehill (小題大做). You will make everyone annoyed. 

The concept of this expression can be traced to 1548 when a British writer and headmaster, Nicholas Udall, translated the writing of the scholar Erasmus from Latin into English. 

“The Sophistes of Grece coulde … make an Elephant of a flye, and a mountaine of a mollehill.” 

In the original writing, Erasmus used only the old proverb “make an elephant of a fly” (i.e. turn a fly into an elephant). When Nicholas Udall translated Erasmus’ writing, he added an alliterative expression “a mountain of a molehill”, in which “mountain” and “molehill” begin with the same letter “m”. 

As we all know, making a lot of fuss over a minor issue may make ourselves and our friends upset. Thus, we need to stay calm or think from different perspectives before making any response. 

 

Glossary 
Trivial 
瑣碎的
Stared 
瞪眼
Bumped 
碰撞
Over-react 
反應過度
Molehill 
鼴鼠丘
Exaggerates 
誇大
Fuss 
大驚小怪
Perspectives 
觀點

 

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