"Stopped Clock" Proverb

Tue Apr 13 22:53:18 UTC 2004

        Washington Irving's Knickerbocker History of New York, already found by Barry but without the correct date, was published in 1809 and had a version of the stopped clock sentiment:  "The clock that stands still, and points resolutely in one direction, is certain of being right twice in the four and twenty hours -- while others may keep going continually, and continually be going wrong."  That would predate Lewis Carroll.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
Of James A. Landau
Sent: Tuesday, April 13, 2004 4:03 PM
Subject: Re: "Stopped Clock" Proverb

In a message dated Mon, 12 Apr 2004 11:51:07 -0400,  Fred Shapiro
<fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU> asks:

>   What is the earliest citation findable
>  for the proverb "even a stopped clock is right twice a day" or variants
>  thereof?

Lewis Caroll.

Quoted in James R. Newman, ed _The World of Mathematics_ (New York: Simon and
Schuster, 1956, no ISBN) vol IV page 2405.  Unfortunately no source is given
for the original.

     - James A. Landau

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