Correction of "Lie Back and Think of England" in OED

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Oct 22 20:17:43 UTC 2012

Also, don't forget, Fred (!):  It's in _The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs_, entered as "Close (Shut) your eyes and think of England (the Empire, the Queen, Old Glory, etc.)," with the 1943 example that YBQ gives.


From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of Shapiro, Fred [fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU]
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2012 1:07 PM

The OED has an entry for "lie back and think of England" and similar phrase=
s, s.v. _lie_.  The first citation given, in square brackets, is the follow=
[1912   Lady Hillingdon Jrnl. in J. Gathorne-Hardy Rise & Fall of Brit. Nan=
ny (1972) iii. 71   When I hear his steps outside my door I lie down on my =
bed, open my legs and think of England.]

The authenticity of the 1912 citation is rejected by all reputable quotatio=
n dictionaries that refer to it.  The Yale Book of Quotations, under "Alice=
 Hillingdon," has an annotation referring to a legitimate 1943 citation for=
 "close your eyes and think of England."

Fred Shapiro

The American Dialect Society -

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