Fox guarding the henhouse

Posted by ESC on November 30, 2000

In Reply to: Phrase Derivation posted by Jay Tischenkel on November 28, 2000

: Where did the phrase," Like a fox guarding the henhouse" start?

DON'T LET THE FOX GUARD THE HENHOUSE - "Don't assign a job to someone who will then be in a position to exploit it for his own ends. Said to one who entrusts his money to sharpers. The proverb has been traced back to 'Contre-League' and is similar to the Latin: 'Ovem lupo commitere' ('To set a wolf to guard sheep.') First attested in the United States in 'Poet's Proverbs' . The proverb is found in varying forms: Don't put the fox to guard the chicken house; Don't let the fox guard the chicken coop; Don't set a wolf to watch the sheep; It's a case of the proverbial fox guarding the chickens, etc. The idea is expressed in the old nursery rhyme: 'Sleep, my little one, sleep. Thy father guards the sheep'." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).