Each week, I’ve been inviting readers to submit quotations for which they want me to try to trace the origin, using The Yale Book of Quotations and my own research. Here is the latest round.
The frontal lobotomy quote was from Fred Allen (1894-1956).
How do you know it was from Fred Allen?
Beyond the pale refers to the English invasion of Ireland that started during the reign of Henry VII. The Pale was the English stronghold in Northern Ireland, so beyond the Pale was uncivilized/barbarous. My source is the This Sceptered Isle radio series produced by the BBC.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary,
The theory that the origin of the phrase relates to any of several specific regions, such as the area of Ireland formerly called the Pale or the Pale of Settlement in Russia, is not supported by the early historical evidence and is likely to be a later rationalization.
Mark P asked:
I have heard the Labotomy quote attributed to Tom Waits, Dorothy Parker, Fred Allen, Groucho Marx, Lenny Bruce, and W.C. Fields. I doubt that Waits was the originator, but if you are going to attribute it to him, he used it on a Fernwood 2Night episode in 1977, which pre-dates the Creem Magazine date.
Other people have pointed this out to me, but thanks for the very good information, which I will incorporate in the next edition of The Yale Book of Quotations.
I’d love to know if “Revenge is a dish best served cold” is attributable to anyone but the Klingons/Roddenberry. Any ideas?
The Yale Book of Quotations lists this in the Proverbs section, citing “Revenge is a dish that can be eaten cold” from Peterson’s Magazine, December 1870, and noting that “An article in the L.A. Times, May 8, 1896, describes it as a saying of Louis Napoleon‘s.”
Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?