"recognize the wool from the lamb"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 4 16:20:19 UTC 2011

On Oct 4, 2011, at 10:23 AM, Charles C Doyle wrote:

> Seems like the expression ought to be "recognize (or know) the lamb from the wool,"

Then there's "from the lambing to the wool", as in Judy Small's eponymous tribute song to Australian sheep-raisers.  But no problem telling one from the other in that case.


> but I can't find any evidence that such existed.  Or that that expression as Joel reports it was ever popular.
> --Charlie
> ________________________________________
> 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.)
> Joel
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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