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Silver spoon

Posted by ESC on January 14, 2001

In Reply to: Born with a silver spoon in his mouth posted by Francie Smith on January 14, 2001

: Where did the phrase "born with a silver spoon in his mouth" come from. I know what it means, but where did it originate. I'm particularly interested in the time period. Also, does anybody know of the custom in the nineteenth century of providing a set of monogrammed silver teaspoons for a child?

BORN WITH A SILVER SPOON IN HIS MOUTH -- "The earliest spoons were made of wood, the word 'spoon,' in fact, deriving from the Anglo-Saxon 'spon,' 'a chip of wood.' Until the last century most people used pewter spoons, but traditionally, especially among the wealthy, godparents have given the gift of a silver spoon to their godchildren at christening ceremonies. The custom is centuries old throughout Europe." From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997). "Every man is not born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Not everybody is born to wealth. A silver spoon is a traditional gift given by godparents when the baby is born; not everybody can afford a silver spoon. The proverb is in Peter Motteux's translation of Cervantes' 'Don Quixote' (1605-15). First attested in the United States in the 'Adams Family Correspondence' . The proverb is found in varying forms: Every man is not born with a silver spoon, let alone a gold one; A lot of people were born with silver spoons in their mouths.State Treasurer Ann Richards of Texas in a keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in 1988 humorously changed the proverb by suggesting that George Bush was 'born with a silver foot in his mouth.'." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).