What does the idiom "put two and two together" mean?

The phrase put two and two together is often used in English, but what does this idiom mean? When idioms are used in the right situations, they strengthen communication and enrich the language. You can communicate more effectively by learning the meaning of put two and two together.

Meaning of "put two and two together"

Meaning

The phrase "put two and two together" is an idiom used to describe the process of using one's intuition to form a logical conclusion. It is often used in conversation to suggest that a certain deduction or inference has been made based on one's own knowledge and observation. The phrase implies that the conclusion is not necessarily provable, but is intuitively sound.

Etymology

The origin of the phrase "put two and two together" dates back to the 16th century. The first known use of the phrase was by English poet William Shakespeare in his comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream in 1595. In the play, one of the characters, Theseus, says to his future bride, Hermia, "I may well put two and two together, that goodly wisdom and her birthright shall enthrall." This suggests that Shakespeare was using the phrase to describe the process of logic being used to make a decision.

Usage

The phrase "put two and two together" is most often used in a figurative sense to talk about the process of deduction and intuition. It is typically used to suggest that the speaker has made a logical deduction or inference based on the evidence they have at hand. It is also often used to describe a decision being made by another person, particularly one that is not immediately apparent. In this sense, the phrase implies that the person making the deduction has made a sound decision based on their intuition and knowledge.

Example Sentences

  • He didn't need to be told what had happened, he was able to put two and two together.
  • When he heard about the affair, he put two and two together and realized what had been going on.
  • After hearing the news, she was able to put two and two together and figure out what had happened.

The meanings of the words in the "put two and two together" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.

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