[Ads-l] Adage: No good deed goes unpunished

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue May 1 02:12:30 EDT 2018

The Quote Investigator website now has an entry about the saying in
the subject line and the closely related remark: Every good deed
brings its own punishment.


Many researchers have explored this topic, and entries can be found in
the “Treasury of Women’s Quotations”, “Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs”,
“The Yale Book of Quotations”, “The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs”,
Barry Popik’s website, “The Oxford Dictionary of American Quotation”,
“Cassell’s Humorous Quotations”, “American Heritage Dictionary of
American Quotations”, and many other references.

The QI article includes some citations that were located by previous
researchers although it is sometimes difficult to determine which
researcher found which citation.

The QI article adds some citations I think are helpful which I have
not seen in previous research results.

1) The expression: he "left no good deed unpunished, no bad one
unrewarded" occurred in a 12 century Medieval Latin tract called “De
Nugis Curialium” by Walter Map.

2) Popular author Marie Belloc Lowndes’s wrote two short stories in
1927 with the precursor saying: "kindness brings its own punishment".

3) The saying was attributed to Clare Boothe Luce in 1949. Previous
researchers found citations in 1956 and 1957.

For these types of articles I do my best to make new discoveries which
build on previous research results, and I try to share this
information widely. I also make an effort to credit to previous

Garson O'Toole

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

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