Compromise is, indeed, not a four letter word.

The phrase “compromise is not a four letter word” is confusing to me. Let’s say the “four letter word” being thought of is fck. "I’d like to suggest both side come to a fck over the dispute." Same with sh*t. Damn? “Can we damn and come to an agreement?”

I understand the intention of the phrase but only through hearing it used in context enough times to recognize it’s meaning when hearing it. It’s not a four letter word. Indeed. Neither is it a five letter word, for that matter. Compromise is a ten letter word. How did this strange saying come into being?

Since it’s said in reference to those seemingly unwilling to yield anything in a compromise-discussion, it’s obviously implying those “four-letter words” to be expletives. And there are only a few four letter expletives. So the phrase “Compromise is not a four letter word” is basically saying “Compromise is not a shit”. Or, “Compromise is not a fuck”. Or…you get the idea. :dubious:

This just seems like a very awkward and broken phrase, literally, if not metaphorically. While it has become so engrained in our language that no one confuses it’s meaning, to me, it seems like a mistake that became accepted speech.

*I just realized this went to GQ. Oops. Mods please move to IMHO

Moved to IMHO at the request of the OP.

A bunch of cuss words are four letters long. The saying is pointing out that compromise is not a four letter word and therefore one should not shy away from mentioning it when it would be most beneficial. That’s all. I think you’re thinking too hard.

Yes, a very similar (almost equivalent) way of phrasing it would be “Compromise is not a dirty word.”

That better?