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Writing on the wall vs Writing on water

writing on the wall —(also: handwriting on the wall) warning signs of impending disaster:

  • Many Britons invested in private pensions and private health care because they could see the writing on the wall for the welfare state.

writing on watersaid of an action that will not yield lasting results and is therefore futile:

  • Seeking wisdom when you are old is like writing on water; seeking it when you are young is like graving on stone.