Modern Proverb: Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Feb 17 21:35:10 UTC 2014

The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs has an entry for

 If you're too open-minded, your brains will fall out.

The first citation is dated 1960. I was sent a request to investigate
this saying by someone who had found ascriptions to G. K. Chesterton
and Marianne Moore.

The earliest relevant citation I've found is a newswire story in 1940
which reported on a speech by Professor Walter Kotschnig. The phrasing
was a bit different.

[ref] 1940 January 27, Blytheville Courier News, Professor Tells
Students to Open Minds to Truth, Quote Page 2, Column 2 and 3,
Blytheville, Arkansas. (NewspaperArchive)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
HOLYOKE, Mass (UP) - Prof. Walter Kotschnig told Holyoke College
students to keep their minds open - "but not so open that your brains
fall out."

He condemned the purpose of students who go to college merely to learn
skill and urged his listeners to find the "real aim of education, to
acquire a philosophy of life, intellectual honesty, and a constant
search for truth."
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society -

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