Quotes Uncovered: Who Found Proof in the Pudding?

Quotes Uncovered

75 ThumbnailHere are more quote authors and origins Shapiro’s tracked down recently.

A while back, I invited readers to submit quotations for which they wanted me to try to trace the origins, using The Yale Book of Quotations and more recent research by me. Hundreds of people have responded via comments or e-mails. I am responding as best I can, a few per week.

Jesse asked:

How about “It’s better to ask forgiveness than permission”?


The Yale Book of Quotations,
which attempts to trace all famous quotations to their earliest findable occurrence, has the following:

“It’s always easier to apologize for something you’ve already done than to get approval for it in advance.” Grace Murray Hopper, quoted in Computerworld, September 10, 1984. “It is easier to get forgiveness than permission” appears in Arthur Bloch, Murphy’s Law Book Two (1980).

Hopper was the pioneer computer scientist whose discovery of a moth inside an early computer allegedly led to the usage of the term “bug” for a computer defect. (The Yale Book of Quotations documents much earlier usage of “bug” by Thomas Alva Edison.)

Jeff asked:

What about “The proof is in the pudding”? Some say it was Cervantes‘s Don Quixote, but others disagree.

This is a variation of the proverb “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” It does not appear in Cervantes, although some loose translations of Cervantes use it. The YBQ cites William Camden, Remains Concerning Britain (1623) as its earliest source for “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”

David Chowes, New York City asked:

Could you check so as to determine whom these quotes or paraphrases are actually attributed to? Was it Will Rogers who said, “All I know is what I read in the newspapers”? And did former President George W. Bush say, “I don’t read the newspapers”? President Bill Clinton: “I did not have sex with that woman,” and, “It depends on which woman you’re asking about.” Are the quotes apocryphal? Just curious.

The YBQ has this:

“Well, all I know is what I read in the papers.” Will Rogers, New York Times, September 30, 1923. Rogers’s use of this line made it famous, but it appears anonymously in The New York Times, November 7, 1915.

I am not familiar with George W. Bush saying he didn’t read the newspapers. Surely he read at least the sports pages and the comics. Sarah Palin famously was unable to name newspapers that she read. Bill Clinton famously said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky,” during remarks on an after-school child-care initiative, January 26, 1998.

Do any readers have any other quotations whose origins they would like me to attempt to trace?


James

One I just heard yesterday, attributed to anonymous (or Veronica Mars):
"Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

Roslyn

Thanks for stating the correct form of the proverb "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." This proveb makes sense; "The proof is in the pudding" does not, and has always irked me.

Calvin

"The whole nine yards"

Amy

What about something being "right up (one's) alley"?

David

Never trust a man who wears suspenders and a belt.

Chris

@ bear9 #18:

If you had as much brandy in your puddings as I do, you'd know that the Proof is indeed In The Pudding :-)

joe

mind your P's and Q's.

izzy

How about "Son of a gun"?

I read from a questionable source that this was originally an insult insinuating that one's mother was a woman of negotiable virtue. This insult, allegedly, referred to women brought aboard naval ships to avoid the logistical problems of shipload of sailors coming in to port in the 18th and 19th century.

Daniel Schultz Jr.

My mother has always said, "this too shall pass". I'd love to know it's origin.

Zaglossus

"If you keep doing what you're doing, you'll get what you got."

When I first heard it, it was attributed to Joe DiMaggio. I've also noted it attributed to Ambrose Bierce. Who do I appropriately credit?

Steve

how about "dime a dozen"?

Dan Ari

Pass with flying colors, going back to the original sense - is passing another ship with flags flying a post-victory display or pre-battle posturing, or some other image.

Stephen Grimmer

What about, "If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." ?

Frederick Michael

Politicians don't name which newspapers they read or endorse any other brand-name products. To do so would be a political blunder. Couric knew this.

Jusitn

Did Clinton at some point say, "that depends on what your definition of 'is' is"?

Webster

I'm curious about the concept of "The Bucket List". A list of things you wish to do before you kick the bucket. I know there was recently a movie of the same name, but it sounds pretty old.

Karl Siegemund

The "shoulders of giants" are very old and attributed to Bernard of Chartres (not much known about him, died sometimes after 1124). The attribution was done by John of Salisbury in his Metalogicon, published 1159.

randy

Joe @27

I was told when I was in Navy ROTC that "mind your Ps & Qs" comes from the old sailing days when you would run a tab with the local beverage shop in Pints and Quarts... if you drank too much you might lose count of your Ps and Qs....

keith

President Bill Clinton: "I did not have sex with that woman," and, "It depends on which woman you're asking about."

This conflates two separate Clinton quotes. Mr Shapiro caught the first; but missed that the second half seems to start the same as with Clinton's notorious statement to the grand jury: "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the-if he-if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not-that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement"

Mojo Bone

I would have expected, "The proof is in the pudding." to have come from an advertising slogan.

Some of these questions are about phrases that are more aphorism than quote; impossible to say who first used the phrase, "Lord willin' an' the crick don't rise.", though you might find it in Twain.

"The whole nine yards"-is military slang from Pacific-theater fighter pilots, most fighter aircraft used the same .50 cal belt-fed machine gun, said belt was nine yards long. So "gave him the whole nine yards" meant meant he emptied his weapon.

"eight days a week. a hard day's night. all you need is love. give peace a chance." 'Eight days a week' and 'a hard day's night'.are attributed to Ringo and his rather well-crafted complaints about how hard the Beatles were working-the other two were probably from John, Paul, the Maharishi, and likely Yoko.

'a high time in the old town tonight' is an old song but did that phrase predate it? Speaking as a songwriter, I can tell you that the phrase almost always predates the song. Almost-see Beatles quotes above.

What about 'sometimes you eat the bar, sometimes the bar eats you', I heard that as "Some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you." and I've seen it attributed to Casey Stengel, and occasionally Teddy Roosevelt, but I think it was more likely Boone or Crockett. There's also a cool Mark Knopfler variation, "Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug."

"Where did the expression, "THREE SHEETS TO THE WIND" originate?" -Sailing terminology, a sheet is a line that holds tension on a sail. If you see a craft with three mainsail sheets unsecured, her crew is probably drunk.

'To Kick the Bucket'.-Inefficient method of suicide and/or execution involving a rope.

"How about "Son of a gun"? I read from a questionable source that this was originally an insult insinuating that one's mother was a woman of negotiable virtue. This insult, allegedly, referred to women brought aboard naval ships to avoid the logistical problems of shipload of sailors coming in to port in the 18th and 19th century."- Yep, means your dad was an entire naval gun crew.

"If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants." - is usually attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, perhaps he quoted an earlier text.

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