Did someone tell you that ‘great minds think alike’ and you aren’t sure what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the definition, origin, examples, and synonyms of this popular proverb.
In short, ‘great minds think alike’ is a phrase used to emphasize when two people have the same thought or idea, especially if it happens around the same time.
‘Great minds think alike’ is a phrase you can use when someone has the same idea or thought as you, particularly if it occurs around the same time. This is a proverb that is used to emphasize when two people reach the same conclusion at the same time or a coincidence.
One of the most common uses of this phrase is in a playful way. When you say ‘great minds think alike,’ you are essentially giving that person a compliment by saying that they are as smart as you are. The implication that you are a ‘great mind,’ however, is typically said in light-hearted jest.
A proverb is a short popular saying that typically states a piece of advice or a general truth.
This is not a particularly old proverb in the grand scheme of things. The general idea behind it, though, dates back to at least the early 1600s.
A phrase with a similar meaning can be found in Hans Beer-Pot, written by Dabridgcourt Belchier in 1618:
“Though he made that verse, Those words were made before. Good wits doe jumpe.”
People don’t typically use the word ‘jump’ in this way anymore, but the meaning at the time was “completely coincide; agree with.”
This same usage shows up in The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman, written by Laurence Sterne in 1761:
“Great wits jump: for the moment Dr. Slop cast his eyes upon his bag the very same thought occurred.”
The first appearance of ‘great minds think alike’ in print doesn’t appear until decades later. One of the earliest examples is the 1816 biography entitled The Woeful History of the Unfortunate Eudoxia:
“It may occur that an editor has already printed something on the identical subject - great minds think alike, you know.”
In using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that the proverb ‘great minds think alike’ started appearing in texts in the 1850s but didn’t really gain traction until the 1870s. The phrase experienced a comparatively higher volume of usage in the early 1940s, only to become a bit less common again until about the 1990s.
How would you use ‘great minds think alike’ in a sentence? Let’s take a look at some examples.
Are there other ways to say, ‘great minds think alike?’ There certainly are! Here are some other phrases you can use to convey a similar meaning: