[Ads-l] Britspeak :spin, span(!), spun

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Fri Oct 31 14:10:39 UTC 2014

The proverb dictionaries trace the egalitarian jingle "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?" back to the mid-14th century.


From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of David Barnhart <dbarnhart at HIGHLANDS.COM>
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2014 10:37 PM

Not a lot of _span_.  DARE and OED have it from 1850's and DARE even has one
from 1980's.

-----Original Message-----
From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
Wilson Gray
Sent: Thursday, October 30, 2014 7:45 PM

11 July 2014
"A[n air]craft being flown at the Paris airshow _span_ out of control and


I recall something from somewhere, somewhen (a casual Googling: 1651)

When Adam delved
And Eve _span_,
Who was, then,
The gentleman?

_Spann_ is the OE past, but I had no idea that anyone still used it.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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