old proverb

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 19 01:48:48 UTC 2010

The Bailey version appears to match Walker's English and Latin Proverbs,
1672, although I have not found th actual source (only a citation).

Answers.com claims another earlier source: It is hard to teach an old
dog trickes.
[1636 W. Camden Remains concerning Britain (ed. 5) 300]

Again, I have not looked for confirmation.


On 4/18/2010 6:09 PM, Victor Steinbok wrote:
> I was surprised to find the form "An old dog will learn no tricks" in
> Bailey's dictionary of 1675. The same ends up in Bailey's Dictionary
> of Proverbs of 1721 (and its 1917 reprint, which is on-line). Indeed,
> Wikiquote cites to the 1721 edition (which is available under
> fromoldbooks.org).
> The surprise has nothing to do with the age--I expect the expression
> to be much older than that. It's the form without "new" that surprised
> me--as in, "Can't teach an old dog new tricks".
> Now that I have library access to the OED, I have no excuse for not
> looking there. But I am still short of quotation and proverb books. In
> any case, I am not attempting to antedate the expression--simply
> thinking "out loud", so to speak.
>     VS-)

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