old proverb

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon Apr 19 11:54:16 UTC 2010

M. P. Tilley's _Dictionary of the Proverbs in England in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries_ gives the form "It's hard to make an old dog stoop" (D489) from 1523 and "An old dog will learn no tricks" (D500) from 1636 (citing Camden). Examples from the 18th and 19th centuries appear the F. P. Wilson, _Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs_ (1970), 805; B. J. Whiting, _Early American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases_ (1977) D272; Archer Taylor and Whiting, _American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases_ (1967) 105.

For instance . . . .


---- Original message ----
>Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2010 18:09:10 -0400
>From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf of Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>)
>Subject: old proverb
>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
>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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