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Re: Sticks & Stones

Posted by ESC on October 05, 2000

In Reply to: Sticks & Stones posted by James Briggs on October 04, 2000

: I've had a request for the origin of "Sticks & stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me"
: Any ideas?
: Thanks
: James Briggs

"STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES, BUT WORDS (NAMES) WILL NEVER HURT ME. - Although a physical attack may harm me, I am not bothered by cruel words or name-calling. I don't care what you're saying. This children's taunt was first listed in 'Folk Phrases of Four Counties' by G.F. Northall and is first attested in the United States in 'Miss Lindsey' by S.G. Gibbons. The proverb is found in varying forms: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but hard words cannot hurt me; Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me; Sticks and stones will break my bones, but lies will never hurt me." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

"Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988) also says that "Folk Phrases" is the first use of the phrase they could find.