Proverb: time is money (antedating exact phrase 1719 May 18)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Mar 27 08:17:32 UTC 2010

Remember that time is money.

That is the classic advice offered by Benjamin Franklin in 1748. OED
(DRAFT REVISION Mar. 2010) has the phrase "time is money" under:
money, n. P3. Proverbs. f. The first cite given is the wonderful and
historically resonant Franklin quote. Here is an instance of the exact
phrase "time is money" with the appropriate meaning dated 1719 May 18.

Citation: 1719 May 18, The Free-Thinker, Page 128 (GN Page 119),
Number 121, London.

I remember to have heard of a notable Woman, who was thoroughly
sensible of the intrinsick Value of Time: Her Husband was a
Shoe-maker, and an excellent Crafts-man; but never minded how the
Minutes passed. In vain did his Wife inculcate to him, That Time is
Money: He had too much Wit to apprehend her; and he cursed the
Parish-Clock, every Night; which at last brought him to his Ruin;

The proverb has a long history but the earlier cites I have found in
references are stated somewhat differently. The online Oxford
Dictionary of Proverbs gives two cites before Franklin's. The first
cite is a version from Classical Greece "the most costly outlay is
time" attributed to Antiphon. The second cite is from 1572 Discourse
upon Usury, "They saye tyme is precious."

Above is the earliest cite I found with the phrase "time is money".


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