Honey catches more flies than vinegar
What's the meaning of the phrase 'Honey catches more flies than vinegar'?
This proverbial saying expresses the idea that it is more effective to be polite and ingratiating than to be hostile or demanding.
What's the origin of the phrase 'Honey catches more flies than vinegar'?
This proverb originated in Italy and is found in Giovanni Torriano's A common place of Italian proverbs and proverbial phrases, 1666:
Honey gets more flyes to it, than doth vinegar
[Italian - Il mele catta più mosche, che non fà l'aceto].
The saying is based on the literal truth that flies are attracted to honey, which has been used to bait fly-traps for centuries.
The proverb is now more used in the USA than elsewhere, where it is often thought to be coined by Benjamin Franklin. That may be because Franklin included it in his 1744 publication Poor Richard's Almanack:
Tart Words make no Friends: spoonful of honey will catch more flies than Gallon of Vinegar.
See also: the List of Proverbs.