[Ads-l] Adage: It's Easier To Ask Forgiveness Than To Get Permission

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Wed Jun 20 05:27:14 EDT 2018

Here's the 1685 version from Lord Mordaunt:

"But in truth the Cardinal Barbarin, of whom the Dutchess had great dependance, and all the other Adherents and Relations of the House of Esté, being every day more and more possessed of the Honor and Interest they were like to find in this Alliance, were scandalised at the unreasonable obstinacy of the Pope and his Nephew, and did franckly advise the Dutchess of Modena suddenly to make up and perfect the Marriage; the peace, and excuse of the thing being easier to be had after it was done, than any present Licence to be obtained for doing it."

>From Early English Books Online
page 428
Succint genealogies of the noble and ancient houses of Alno or de Alneto, Broc of Stephale, Latimer of Duntish, Drayton of Drayton, Mauduit of Westminster, Green of Drayton, Vere of Addington, Fitz-Lewes of Westhornedon, Howard of Effingham and Mordaunt of Turvey :
justified by publick records, ancient and extant charters, histories and other authentick proofs, and enriched with divers sculptures of tombs, images, seals, and other curiosities /

Henry Mordaunt Peterborough, Earl of

[10], 697 pages, [41] pages of plates) : illustrations, coats of arms
London :

Stephen Goranson
Stephen Goranson's Home Page - Duke University<http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/>
"Celsus of Pergamum: Locating a Critic of Early Christianity," Ch. 30 in The Archaeology of Difference: Gender, Ethnicity, Class and the "Other" in Antiquity: Studies in Honor of Eric M. Meyers (AASOR 60/61, 2007 ...

From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <...>
Sent: Tuesday, June 19, 2018 3:04 PM
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Subject: [ADS-L] Adage: It's Easier To Ask Forgiveness Than To Get Permission

The saying in the subject line was discussed on the Freakonomics blog
back in 2010. At the time I shared two citations. Stephen Goranson
helped to verify a citation with hardcopy. Fred told me about a 1966
citation via email.


Barry Popik explored the topic in 2011:


The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs has an entry which verifies a key
citation in 1966.

Now I've finally created an entry. The first match listed is dated
1846 although the statement is not quite in proverbial form.

It’s Easier To Ask Forgiveness Than To Get Permission

[Begin acknowledgement]
Great thanks to Claudia, William Flesch, and Nick Rollins whose
inquiries led QI to formulate this question and perform this
exploration. Some citations were previously shared by QI in 2010 on
the Freakonomics website. Thanks to Barry Popik, Bill Mullins, Fred
Shapiro, and Herb Stahlke for their research and comments. Further
thanks to Stephen Goranson for his research and for his verification
of the February 1971 citation.
[End acknowledgement]


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

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