"recognize the wool from the lamb"

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Oct 4 14:23:44 UTC 2011

Seems like the expression ought to be "recognize (or know) the lamb from the wool," but I can't find any evidence that such existed.  Or that that expression as Joel reports it was ever popular.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Joel S. Berson [Berson at ATT.NET]
Sent: Monday, October 03, 2011 11:44 PM

In the Jeremy Brett/Sherlock Holmes DVD of "The adventure of the
Three Gables", while contemplating the effect publication of Douglas
Maberley's manuscript "novel" would have had on the reputation and
plans of Isadora Klein, Holmes says "All of London would recognize
the wool from the lamb" -- meaning, I believe, that the content of
this autobiographical novel would allow the public to identify the
woman even though she was not actually named in it.

There is one lonely Google Everything result for the phrase, in an
odd transformation of the Conan Doyle story with a "Ms. Sherlene
Holmes" as the detective.

Where did this popular saying arise?  (I will while I'm waiting
re-read Conan Doyle to see if it's actually in his text.)


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list