phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: "no good deed goes unpunished"

Posted by Henry on December 31, 2003

In Reply to: Re: "No good deed goes unpunished" posted by masakim on December 31, 2003

: : : Another one I've been hearing, lately.

: : One of my favorite sayings because it is SO true.
: : I thought Dorothy Parker said it. But I googled and found that it is attributed to Clare Booth Luce. Anyone know for sure?

: Gregory Y. Titelman, in _Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings_ , writes:
: No good deed goes unpunished. Life is so unfair that one is more likely to get into some sort of trouble than be rewarded if one attempts to do a good deed. It was attributed to American financier John P. Grier, banker Andrew W. Mellon, and writer Clare Boothe Luce, but its ultimate origin is unknown. Listed in the sixteenth edition [1992] of Bartlett's _Familiar Quotations_, edited by Justin Kaplan.
: [1989-1994 citations omitted]
: -----
: [No vice without its punishment. (English proverb)]
: [Isidore Leo] Pavia was in great form to-day: "Every good deed brings its own punishment." (James Agate, _Ego_, January 25, 1938)
: Very good line George [Greeves] came out with at dinner: "No good deed ever goes unpunished." (Joe Orton, _Diaries_, June 13, 1967)

'No good deed goes unpunished' is a remark attributed to Oscar Wilde, who lived from 1854-1900. See Cassell's Humourous Quotations edited by Nigel Rees. It certainly has the ring of one of his sayings.