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Re: Don't count your chickens

Posted by ESC on October 17, 2002

In Reply to: Chicken link posted by R. Berg on October 17, 2002

: : : Hi! What is the origin of the phrase, "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched."? Mrs. Morrissey's class has struck again...(Saxon)

: : Mrs. Morrissey's students would be well advised to look at Aesop's Fables--in particular, "The Milkmaid and Her Pail" (link below or http://www.pacificnet.net/~johnr/cgi/aesop1.cgi?srch&fabl/TheMilkmaidandHerPail). The version at that site looks suspiciously modern to me, referring as it does to a Farmer Brown, but it has the gist of the old story.

DON'T COUNT YOUR CHICKENS BEFORE THEY HATCH - " ' The Milkmaid and her Pail,' a fable generally attributed to Aesop but possibly of much later origins, probably gave rise to the current proverb.The earliest renderings of the proverb in English appeared in a word called 'Misogonus' (c. 1577): 'My chickings are not hatcht I nil to counte of him as yet,' and in 'Ephemerides of Phialo' by the English ecclesiastic Stephen Gosson, 'I would not have him to counte his chickens so soone before they be hatcht.'." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).