Great Minds Think Alike: Definition, Meaning and Origin

Last Updated on
May 12, 2023

The saying "great minds think alike" implies that individuals with high intellect tend to conceive the same notions at the same time. By using this expression, you recognize a shared similarity in thinking or viewpoint with someone else.

In brief:

"Great minds think alike" means that smart people often have similar ideas or viewpoints.

What Does "Great Minds Think Alike" Mean?

"Great minds think alike" is an idiom people use when they discover a congruence in thought or perspective with someone else. It's primarily used in informal contexts, often to express a sense of shared understanding or camaraderie.

  • Expressing similarity in thoughts or ideas
  • Communicating a shared understanding
  • Used predominantly in informal settings

The idiom is often utilized to highlight that the speaker and the listener have arrived at the same conclusion or thought.

Where Does "Great Minds Think Alike" Come From?

While the phrase's exact origin remains a matter of discussion among language historians, it is commonly believed to have roots dating back to the early 17th century. The earliest form of this phrase is found in 1618, where it was initially penned as “good wits doe jumpe.” In this context, the word 'jumpe' was used to mean 'agree with,' offering a similar sentiment to the modern interpretation of the phrase. It may also be related to other idioms like "great minds think alike, small minds rarely differ" and "great minds think alike, and fools seldom differ."

Historical Examples

"Great minds often think alike on the same occasions, and we are not always to suppose, that such thoughts are borrow'd from one another when exprest by persons of the same heroick sentiments."

- The Arts of Logick and Rhetorick, John Oldmixon & ‎Dominique Bouhours, 1728

"Has not some one said that great minds think alike? I have just been reading La Rochefoucauld, and I find he has said a great many things that I have written down here."

- Marie Bashkirtseff: The Journal of a Young Artist, Marie Bashkirtseff, 1889

10 Examples of "Great Minds Think Alike" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the idiom "great minds think alike" used in different contexts:

  • We both get the gist of the report after the first reading. Great minds think alike!
  • I see you dressed in red too. Great minds think alike.
  • You have my back, and I have yours. Great minds think alike.
  • I was just about to suggest the same solution. Great minds think alike.
  • Are you feening for a milkshake too? Great minds think alike.
  • Oh, you brought some snacks too? Great minds think alike.
  • The dynamic duo in this year's debate is the best evidence that great minds think alike.
  • I see you also thought to bring a map. Great minds think alike.
  • You also thought to bring a spare tire? Great minds think alike.
  • Josh and I both said, "Have a safe trip" to Louis. Great minds think alike.

Examples of "Great Minds Think Alike" in Pop Culture

The phrase frequently appears in various forms of media and pop culture:

  • "Great Minds Think Alike/Betty and the Beast" is the title of an episode of the animated TV series Rugrats
  • In the TV series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Lois Lane tells Clark Kent, "Great minds think alike."

Other/Different Ways to Say "Great Minds Think Alike"

There are several other ways to express the idea behind "great minds think alike" in English.

Some of these alternatives include:

  • We're on the same wavelength
  • We think similarly
  • Our thoughts align
  • We have similar ideas
  • Our minds work in tandem
  • We're in sync
  • We're thinking along the same lines
  • Our thoughts coincide

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Great Minds Think Alike":

  • What does "great minds think alike" mean?

"Great minds think alike" is an idiom expressing the idea that intelligent people often come up with the same ideas simultaneously.

  • Where does the phrase come from?

The exact origin of the phrase "great minds think alike" is unclear, but it's believed to have originated in the 17th century. It's often used to express agreement or shared understanding.

  • How can I use "great minds think alike" in a sentence?

You can use "great minds think alike" in a sentence to highlight a similarity in thought or idea with someone else. For instance, "I see you also brought an umbrella. Great minds think alike!"

  • Is "great minds think alike" a formal or informal phrase?

'Great minds think alike' is more of an informal term, typically used in casual conversation rather than formal writing or professional situations.

  • What are some situations where people might say "great minds think alike"?

People often use "great minds think alike" when they discover they've had the same idea as someone else, whether it's bringing an item to a party, suggesting a solution to a problem, or deciding on a course of action.

  • Can you use "great minds think alike" sarcastically?

Yes, "great minds think alike" can sometimes be used sarcastically, especially when the similarity of thought or action leads to a humorous or undesirable outcome.

  • What are some synonyms for "great minds think alike"?

Some synonyms or phrases expressing similar ideas include "we're on the same wavelength", "our thoughts align", "we're thinking along the same lines", and "we're in sync".

  • Does "great minds think alike" imply a positive or negative connotation?

Generally, "great minds think alike" has a positive connotation, suggesting a shared understanding or camaraderie. However, it can be used sarcastically, which could give it a more humorous or negative connotation depending on the context.

  • What is the best way to use "great minds think alike" in a casual conversation?

In casual conversation,"great minds think alike" can be used to point out when you and another person have had the same idea, or when you agree with what someone has suggested. For example, if a friend suggests a movie that you were also thinking of watching, you could respond with, "Great minds think alike!"

  • Is "great minds think alike" a universally understood phrase?

While "great minds think alike" is a common English idiom, it may not be universally understood by non-native English speakers or people from different cultural backgrounds. As with any idiom, it's important to consider your audience when using it.

Final Thoughts About "Great Minds Think Alike"

Essentially, "great minds think alike" is an idiom expressing that intelligent people often arrive at the same conclusions or ideas. It is predominantly used in informal contexts to denote agreement or shared understanding.

Key aspects of the phrase:

  • It indicates a similarity in thoughts or ideas
  • Its origins can be traced back to the 17th century
  • It is more appropriate  in informal contexts

Despite its popularity, some argue that the phrase is not always true, as different perspectives and experiences can lead to diverse and valuable insights. Nonetheless, it remains a common expression to highlight the similarities between individuals who share similar traits or interests.

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