Antedatings in the Yale Book of Quotations -- 17: Invisible Hand

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Dec 25 16:05:00 UTC 2006

This is not strictly an antedating, but rather an extremely important term
not included in OED.

invisible hand (not in OED)

1759 Adam Smith _Theory of Moral Sentiments_ pt. 4, sec. 1  The rich ...
divide with the poor the produce of all their improvements.  They are led
by an invisible hand to make nearly the same distribution of the
necessaries of life, which would have been made, had the earth been
divided into equal proportions among all its inhabitants.

1776 Adam Smith _An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of
Nations_ vol. 2, bk. 4, ch. 2  Every individual necessarily labors to
render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can.  He
generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor
knows how much he is promoting it. ... He intends only his own gain, and
he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote
and end which was no part of his intention.

Fred Shapiro

Fred R. Shapiro                             Editor
Associate Librarian for Collections and     YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS
   Access and Lecturer in Legal Research     Yale University Press
Yale Law School                             ISBN 0300107986
e-mail: fred.shapiro at     

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