Throw out the baby

Posted by ESC on May 10, 2000

In Reply to: Throw out the baby posted by ESC on April 25, 2000

: : I would like to know the origin of this phrase. I have looked everywhere and found only the meaning. Who said it first, and when?
: : This is for a student paper. Thanks.

: A Dictionary of American Proverbs by Wolfgang Mieder, Stewart A. Kingsbury and Kelsie B. Harder (Oxford University Press, New York, 1992, Page 33). "Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. Rec. dist: Fla., Miss., N.Y. 1st cit.: 1853 Carlyle, '[word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy] Question'; US 1925 Neverinson, 'More Changes. 20c. coll.: ODEP 220, CODP 225, Stevenson 112:3, Whiting (MP) 24."

: Sorry about the [word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy] but that's what it says. Some of the abbreviations: Rec. dist. - recorded distribution. 1st. cit. -- 1st citation. ODEP - Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs. CODP - The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs.

More information 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): "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. (Don't empty out the baby with.) A German proverb of unknown origins, it was current in German at least as early as the seventeenth century, when the astronomer Johannes Kepler included the passage, 'This is a caution.lest you throw out the baby with the bath water,' in Tertius Interveniens' . The saying apparently first appeared in English in the writings of Thomas Carlyle, who reported, 'The Germans say, 'You must empty out the bathing-tub, but not the baby along with it.' George Bernard Shaw used the proverb in the preface to 'Getting Married' , noting, 'We shall in a very literal sense empty the baby out with the bath.'"