Antedating Proverb "once bit twice shy" (1806) "singed" (1837)

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Wed Dec 16 10:40:44 UTC 2009

On Wed, Dec 16, 2009 at 05:33:25AM -0500, Garson O'Toole wrote:
> The proverb "once bitten twice shy" appears in the Yale Book of
> Quotations and in A Dictionary of Proverbs from Oxford. Both
> references also list "once burned twice shy" as a U.S. variant.
> YBQ has an 1849 cite and ADOP has an 1853 cite for "once bitten twice
> shy". A few pertinent posts in the ADS archives culminate in 1850 as
> the earliest cite.
> Below is a citation from 1806 for "Once bit twice shy".


Thanks very much for this, Garson.

OED3 does have an entry for this, s.v. _once_, with the
earliest example in the full form from 1849, but it does list
a 1751 quotation that only has the "once bit" part (actually
"I have been bit once, and have made a vow never to settle
upon any woman while I live, again").

Jesse Sheidlower

The American Dialect Society -

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