Tag Archives: Quote

“Ships are safe in harbor but thats not why they’re built”

Context: Story was prompted by asking about any childhood traditions that this person had. 


“So when I was in elementary school my dad would read to me before I went to bed. One day, when reading this book… ugh I don’t remember what it was called. If I had to guess I would say Million dollar put, but that’s a reach. So we were reading, and this quote came up “ships are safe in harbor but that’s not why they’re built”.  My dad loved it, started saying it, thinking about it, and talking about it at the dinner table and everything.”


This piece of folklore is a piece of familial folklore, folklore that stems from a familial relationship and could then be passed down from generation to generation. Additionally, the quote’s ambiguous origins lead to much mystery existing around its true meaning. An in depth study done by Quote Investigator traces the quote back to many different authors, such as John A. Shedd , Grace Hopper, and others.


Quote Investigator. “Tag: John A. Shedd.” Quote Investigator, 21 June 2019, https://quoteinvestigator.com/tag/john-a-shedd/. 

How About That Ride In?

How About That Ride In?”

My informant, 25 years old and living in Pasadena, CA, was a big fan of the Hollywood blockbuster, “The Hangover”, which was released in 2009. He says that he distinctly remembers one of its most famous lines- “how about that ride in”- when the group of young men arrive in Las Vegas where the plot of the movie begins. My informant tells me that ever since the movie came out, that line has “literally become a part of American folklore for guys my age”. “I’ve heard it countless times from my buddies and other peers when we’re all just hanging out”, he says.

My informant says that this piece of folklore is used as a sort of comical relief from an awkward or dull situation. He says it is usually said when conversation is lagging or there is an awkward silence to lighten the mood and bring humor to the room. “Sometimes people say it as a joke when they arrive late to a meeting or gathering. I’ve really heard it in so many different situations” said my informant. He says that he just assumes that everybody knows that it’s a line from a movie, so it’s not ‘weird or awkward’ when somebody comes out and says it in a random situation. My informant says that he ‘laughs every time’ and that it’s ‘gotten him out of some pretty awkward situations in a funny way’. “Sometimes, when people don’t know that it’s a line from a movie, it gets even more awkward, very fast”.

My informant also says that he can use it as a sort of test, to see if this person is somebody he would like to spend time with or hang around with. He is convinced that it how they react to it will show whether or not they have a good sense of humor, and are into popular culture.

I agree with my informant, and have heard this phrase many times on my own as well. It seems like it would be a good icebreaker or funny quote just to lighten a mood. I think it is a great example of a piece of folklore that is stemmed from a part of authored literature, in this case, a film. It becomes more of a folkloric term because it is used in different contexts and to achieve different tasks than it originally was supposed to in the film. It has begun to grow and gain newer meanings among a younger American crowd.

Annotation: The Hangover, Movie, 2009