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Origin of phrase

Posted by Eureka on August 28, 2001

In Reply to: Origin of phrase posted by Sharon Wochos on August 28, 2001

: I have a physician who wants to know to whom he can attribute the phrase" desperate times call for desperate measures". He was sure it was from Shakespeare but I have looked through quotes from his plays and cannot find this. Anyone know?

This is a variant of the proverb "Desperate diseases must have desperate
remedies." This goes back to the Latin _extremis malis extrema remedia_
'extreme remedies for extreme ills.' The earliest English version given
by the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs is the following:

1539 R. Taverner tr. _Erasmus' Adages_ 4 A stronge disease requyreth a
stronge medicine.

(Thank Fred Shapiro, Yale Law Library)

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