phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Don't throw the baby...

Posted by ESC on October 20, 2000

In Reply to: Preaching to the choir posted by E on October 20, 2000

: and Throwing the Baby out with the bathwater are missing. What do they mean? What are their origins?

"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" 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.'"

"Preaching to the choir" means to people who are already converted, who already see it your way.