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Comparisons are odorous/odious - Gary :)

Posted by TheFallen on November 20, 2002

In Reply to: Comparisons are odorous posted by phil kendall on November 20, 2002

: odious?

: Comparisons are odious.
: Proverbs 141

: Comparisons are odorous.
: Much Ado About Nothing (1598-9) act 3, sc. 5, l. [18]

Now this is interesting. A search of the database of this very site reveals the following:


"Comparisons are odorous"
From Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. Usually misquoted as 'comparisons are odious'.

However, a little further research shows the following:

a) AUTHOR: Sir John Fortescue (c. 1394-1476)
QUOTATION: Comparisons are odious.
ATTRIBUTION: De Laudibus Leg. Angliæ. Chap. xix.

b) AUTHOR: Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
QUOTATION: Comparisons are odious.
ATTRIBUTION: Lust's Dominion. Act iii. Sc. 4.

c) AUTHOR: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616)
QUOTATION: Comparisons are odious. Note 1
ATTRIBUTION: Don Quixote. Part ii. Chap. xxiii.

d) AUTHOR: John Donne (1572-1631)
QUOTATION: She and comparisons are odious.
ATTRIBUTION: Elegy 8. The Comparison
I don't have a Bible to hand to check the claimed Biblical reference - perhaps someone could oblige.

The point is that Shakespeare, who certainly knew the difference between odious (hateful) and odorous (unpleasant smelling), is lampooning Dogberry by making him misquote what was clearly a well-known saying of the period.

Therefore for our own database to claim that the "true" phrase is "comparisons are odorous" and that anything else is a misquotation of Shakespeare is rather missing the point.