A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 23, 2010
“If pro and con are opposites, is Congress the opposite of progress?”

A popular joke goes: “If ‘pro’ is the opposite of ‘con,’ what’s the opposite of progress?”

The joke about Congress dates to at least 1880, when it was printed in several newspapers.


WikiAnswers
Q: What is the opposite of progress?
A: Regress

(The opposite of pro is con, therefore the opposite of progress= congress) FALSE !

Ha ha ! A cheap joke. ‘Pro is a root, meaning ‘for’. ‘Con’ means ‘against’. These roots have nothing to do with the question. I suspect this phony answer is an unhelpful mixing of linguistic roots to make a Palinesque political comment. Regress, from the Latin regressus (to move backward) is the opposite of progress, to move forward. I’ve left the incorect ‘congress’ deception up, to demonstrate the sort of numbskulls that troll these boards and the misinformation they delight in.

WikiAnswers
Q: If pro is the opposite of con and progress is moving forward what is congress?
A: Now, literally speaking, “con” in congress refers to congregation, for the opposite of progress is regress. Unfortunately, many times congress does seem to be the opposite of progress, even if it may not be so in the meaning of the word.

I believe this joke had been independently invented by many people (Great Minds Think Alike)

Answerbag
QUESTION
If pros and cons are opposite, is progress the opposite of congress?
ANSWER
Your example is faulty. It is limiting the meaning of “con” to one thing. People work in CONcert with one another..that means they work together. People are members of a CONgregation..they don’t work against each other. There is a CONfluence of thought..meaning agreement, not disagreement. smile So CONgress is a body of people working together. smile

13 February 1880, Daily Inter Ocean (Chicago, IL), “People and Things,” pg. 4:
TEACHER in high school at ____: “Are pro and con synonymous or opposite terms?” Scholar—“Opposite.” Teacher—“Give an example.” Scholar—“Progress and Congress.”—Norfolk County Gazette.

23 October 1938, San Antonio (TX) Light, “‘Boners’ in the Classroom,” American Weekly, pg. 6, col. 4:
Since pro means the opposite of con can you give an illustration?
Progress and Congress.

Google Books
A Treasury of Laughter:
Consisting of humorous stories, poems, essays, tall tales, jokes, boners, epigrams, memorable quips, and devastating crushers

By Louis Untermeyer
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
1946
Pg. 655:
Since pro means the opposite of con, can you give me an illustration? Progress and Congress.

Google Books
American Opinion
v. 8, nos. 1-6 - 1965
Pg. 38:
EAGLE ROCK—Mary Shannon, who is fifteen years old and doing her best to keep up with the news, writes that her English teacher says ”pro is the opposite of con.” This makes Mary wonder if “Progress” is the opposite of “Congress.”

21 January 1971, Carroll (IA) Daily Times Herald, pg. 2, col. 1:
A conundrum going the rounds asks, “If pro and con are opposites, what is the opposite of progress?” The answer offered, “Congress,” shocks some and tickles others.

Google News Archive
17 August 1975, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, pg. 4F, col. 4:
Sir: I thought this little quip might find a spot in your paper: If the opposite of PRO is CON, can we assume that the opposite of progress is congress.
RAYMOND J. LLOYD
Sarasota

Google Books
1,001 logical laws, accurate axioms, profound principles, trusty truisms, homey homilies, colorful corollaries, quotable quotes, and rambunctious ruminations for all walks of life
By John Peers, Gordon Bennett and George Booth
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1979
Pg. 21:
Taft’s Law:
If “pro” is the opposite of “con,” then “Progress” is the opposite of “Congress.”

26 September 1989, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Choice words on our lunatic Mother Tongue” by Steve Johnson, Tempo section, pg. 1:
After decades spent cozying up to palindromes, malaprops, oxymora and other, untitled incrongruities of English, Richard Lederer—no shunner of puns, either—has become a richer letterer than most.

With an inaugural printing of 45,000 copies, according to Lederer, “Crazy English” might be described as the book that asks the persnickety questions, “If we conceive a conception and receive at a reception, why don’t we grieve a greption and believe a beleption? . . . If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If a firefighter fights fire, what does a freedom fighter fight? . . . If pro and con are opposites, is congress the opposite of progress?”

Google Books
The Clintonian : a dictionary for the political world : good vs. liberals
By Clintonian Institute
Victoria, BC.: Trafford
2004
Pg. 70:
PROGRESS – If pro is opposite of con, then what is the opposite of progress… Congress!

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Friday, April 23, 2010 • Permalink