If the Gloves Don’t Fit, You Must Acquit!

Our Cafe for this week talks about one of the most famous murder cases in the history of my fair (beautiful; nice) city, the O.J. Simpson trial. During the trial, Simpson’s charismatic (charming; appealing; attractive) lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, used every rhetorical (related to the use of language) trick in the book (that has ever existed) to convince the jury that O.J. was innocent. One of those tricks was one of the simplest but most effective strategies in communication: rhymes.

A rhyme is when one word sounds like another word, such as “luck” and “truck” or “leaf” and “grief” (sadness). In the Simpson case, the police had found gloves (what you wear on your hands) with blood on them. Cochran told the jury that the gloves didn’t even fit (were not the right size) for Simpson, and therefore he could not have been the murderer. He told the jury, “If gloves don’t fit, you must acquit!” (To acquit means to decide that he is innocent (not guilty) of the crime.)

Simpson was found not guilty.

Several studies have found that not only do rhymes help us remember things, but that we actually believe statements (things people say or write) that rhyme more than ones that don’t. For example, researchers (investigators; scientists) found that people were more likely to believe this rhyming statement:

What sobriety (not being drunk) conceals (hides), alcohol reveals (shows you).

than this non-rhyming expression that means the same:

What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks (reveals).

One theory is that the brain likes information that is easy to “process” or understand, and rhymes make a statement easier (and faster) to process.

Perhaps this is why so many proverbs (traditional sayings or expressions) in different languages tend to (usually; often) rhyme, such as “Birds of a feather (similar birds) flock (group themselves) together,” where “feather” rhymes with “together.”

Are there rhyming expressions in your own language?


Photo credit: Boxing gloves in Minoan painting on Knossos, around 1500 B.C. Wikipedia CC

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16 Responses to If the Gloves Don’t Fit, You Must Acquit!

  1. h3aL says:

    A common proverb in German is “Morgenstund hat Gold im Mund.”

    English equivalents are, for instance, seen in the also rhyming *yiha* “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” (By the way, according to my source, this saying is accredited to Benjamin Franklin. Can I take this for granted?) and “It’s the early bird that catches the worm.” (unluckily not rhyming :'( )

    Schönen Gruß und auf Wiedersehen!

  2. Dan says:

    Hello everyone,

    Well, since I am looking at the presidential campaign in the U.S. at all the promises the two candidate are doing,
    I would say in Italian ” Tra il dire e il fare c’è di mezzo il mare” wich more or less is the Italian for: easier said than done.

    That is, in between saying and doing something there is a sea/ocean.

    I do agree that phrases like this are easier to remeber and often not always tell some sort of truth.


  3. Peter says:

    Oh,I just listened  to the caffe.
    I know a bout the guy. In fact ,the trial was all over the news. Back then ,I was a kid still remeber the trial . It was on TV. And , the car chasing. 
    I remember people talking about it. 
    And nobody ever believed that he was not guilty .

    You know all the domestics violence he was attributed to ,at least ,most of it was directly related to his ex-wife relationship with the guy.

    So ,By glove u meant the famouse glove that kept him from going to jail

    You know ,Later on his life, he got inviloved a robbery and he was thrown to jail.

    I believe he is still doing time.

    You know back then the  evidence regarding the crime  was not solid enough! 

    The trial was very controversial!
    It was totally heated! People everywhere talked about it.
    In fact, the story made headline for quite long even after the trial

    You know ,L.A. And it’s ways.


  4. Peter says:

    Speakimg about being rythmic.

    I always make this rythmic lines In my pathethic attemp to sound funny.

    I made one just recently ,and to my surprise it kind of caught on among friends.

    It goes like:
    “If you can’t make time , there is always next time.”

    You see what I m trying to do here.
    U set a date with a friend and he calls ahead of time that he can’t make it. Then, I always say that


    The dull pants:)))

  5. Rafael says:

    Yeah Jeff, I agree with you, If you want to remember an expression, rhyme is the suggestion

  6. hubert says:

    h3aL, what about ‘Morgen, morgen nur nich heute’?

  7. Iraj says:

    Hey Jeff,

    What you unmasked in this passage was charimatic!
    But Jeff, I would like to see a picture of your face. I have not seen you yet. What can I do?
    Iraj from Iran

  8. Peter says:

    Rafael my friend, 

    I understand you asked me a question.
    Sorry for the tardy response. 
    U know it is simple. I keep listening to the same thing over and over.
    For example , so far, I have listened to English cafe 363   12 times.

    Oh,there is one more thing that help me hold on to the materials Eslpod presents.
    You know, Jeff presents us a set of material in every lesson. Well, some store into my brain,and  some I forget  forget. It may happen to everybody

    But , it happens that sometimes I hear what Jeff mentioned ,and i totally forgot,  in a real life situation that immediately remind me off Jeff and that he taught us about it. And bingo , the piece  of info stick to my brain for good.

    Let me give you an instance, just recently I watched a movie called ” Premium Rush ” 
    At one of the scene the leading character who is a drop-out law student bomb into an old class mate 
    The class mate asks sarcastically ” u never took the bar ,did you?”
    Almost instantly , I remembered Jeff explained once  about the bar exam for lawyers.
    I had totally forgot about it at the time 
    If I weren’t for Jeff, I Wouldn’t understand what he meant.

    You see,

  9. George Louis says:

    I agree with you Jeff , rhymes really help us to remember things better. In Portuguese we have many famous rhyming expressions, “O dinheiro compra pão, mas não compra gratidão” (Money buyS bread, but it doesn’t buy gratitude). I enjoy rhymes, specially in songs, some of them are very creative. Actually, when I was younger I used to write lyrics with lots and lots of rhymes. I had a lot of fun doing it.

    Thanks Jeff and Lucy !!!!!!!!

    George Louis

  10. Tania says:

    Hi! Your nice antique photo remember me of my Antiquity History class.
    And today I keep in my book-case a childhood book “The Olympus Legends” with legends about all Greek gods and heroes.
    At school, we are studying History class every year. And one year only the Antiquity History class.
    So, it is easy to fall in love with the Greek mythology, with Mount Olympus (2,917 m) regarded as the “home” of the Twelve Olympian gods of the Ancient Greek world.

    Thank you for this interesting photo.

  11. Tania says:

    Hi! In Greek mythology, King Minos dwelled in a palace at Knossos.
    An artist , Daedalus, built a labyrinth in which to retain the Minos’ son, the Minotaur, a half-man , half-bull monster.
    Interesting that we say “taur” for the word “bull”.

  12. Tania says:

    Hi! I remember of the love of Ariadne, King Minos’daughter, for Theseus who killed the Minotaur.
    Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and , on the advice of Daedalus , gave him a ball of thread .
    So he could find his way out of the Labyrinth.
    Yes, a nice love story as long as the Ariadne’s thread…

  13. Tania says:

    Hi! The most of our traditional, folklore sayings are rhyming expressions.
    We say that “the Romanian was born a poet”.
    I can’t translate them to rhyme in English language. But I know several English rhyming sayings.
    May I write some of them?

    No sweet without sweat.

    A friend in need is a friend indeed.

    When the cat is away the mice will play.

    All’s well that ends well.

  14. Tania says:

    Hi! I have found a nice limerick by Edward Lear (1812 – 1888).

    “There was a Young Lady of Niger,
    Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
    They returned from the ride
    With the lady inside
    And the smile on the face of the tiger.”

  15. Tania says:

    Hi! Tonight, in Bucharest, we can listen to the Leonard Cohen’ concert.
    Yes…dance me to the end of love…

  16. Tania says:


    Happy birthday to you, dear Jeff!


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