"Half the battle"

Nathaniel Sharpe nts at BETHLEHEMBOOKS.COM
Mon Feb 4 22:35:02 UTC 2013

Don't know if any of this is new, but here's what I turned up.

The variation "Knowing is Half the Battle" seems to have been
popularized by the 1970 GI Joe TV show.

According to Betty Kirkpatrick (http://goo.gl/9RDu1) the phrase was
originally "The first blow is half the battle," and dated from the 18th

The earliest instance of this phrase I saw was in the 1713 "The Young
Man's Counselor" (http://goo.gl/0VmTj), but already the phrase appears
to have been an accepted proverb.

One interesting find is from John Stevens 1726 Spanish-English
dictionary (http://goo.gl/NGg2t) where, under the entry for Hombre he
has the example "hombre apercebido medio combatido" which he translates
as "a man that is prepar'd has half the battle over." Could this Spanish
phrase be the forerunner of the similar English one?

I looked up the Spanish version and found that Cervantes used it in Don
Quioxte (translated as "He who is prepared has his battle half fought")
as well as an instance back in 1545, in the /Tragicomedia de Calisto y
Melibea/, (http://goo.gl/IcvRa). My Spanish is very slim, though, so I'm
not sure of the context.


On 2/4/2013 3:25 PM, Dan Goncharoff wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dan Goncharoff<thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      "Half the battle"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> One of the Super Bowl commercials, the one for Jeep about troops returning
> home, had the following line:
> "Half the battle is knowing that this is half the battle."
> http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=FadwTBcvISo
> My brain promptly exploded, but when I had put it back together again, I
> wondered whether we know the origin of "half the battle" as a phrase.
> Anyone?
> DanG
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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