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Re: Hung for a sheep as a lamb..

Posted by Shae on September 05, 2002

In Reply to: Re: Hung for a sheep as a lamb.. posted by R. Berg on September 05, 2002

: : anyone know?

: The Oxford English Dictionary has a quotation from Richardson, "Clarissa" : "In for the lamb, as the saying is, in for the sheep." The saying must be older; I don't know by how much.

'I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.' If the consequence of failure is the same in either case, then go for the option that yields the greatest reward if the venture succeeds.

Suggested origin:

Until at least 1800 in England, the penalty for stealing sheep, irrespective of the animal's age or gender, was execution or deportation. Since there is more meat and wool on a fully-grown sheep, why bother putting the same effort into stealing a lamb if the consequence of being caught for either crime was the gallows?