[Ads-l] Adage: If you are going to be a bear, be a grizzly (June 1908)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Thu Dec 8 12:31:15 EST 2016

The saying in the subject line was mentioned on this mailing list in
2015 and 2016. I was sent requests via email and twitter to explore
the provenance of the saying and its unlikely ascription to Gandhi.
Now the QI website has an entry on the topic.

If You Are Going To Be a Bear, Be a Grizzly

[Begin acknowledgement]
Great thanks to Wilson Gray, Juan Ospina, Sarah Werner, John Overholt,
Lisa Gold, and David Emery whose inquiries and comments led QI to
formulate this question and perform this exploration. Thanks to Wilson
Gray who located the 1908 citation, Sarah Werner who found the 1967
citation, Wendy Robertson who identified the 1977 citation, and Tom
Woodward who pointed to the 1981 movie.
[End acknowledgement]


On Tue, Apr 12, 2016 at 12:55 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole
<adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
> The expression in the subject line has been attributed to Mahatma
> Gandhi. This linkage might be facetious. I was sent a request to trace
> the saying several months ago, and this message was prompted by
> Wilson's message containing the saying.
> Other citations and information would be welcome.
> [ref] 1908 June, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Volume 45, Number 1, An Inside
> Tip By George Hyde Preston, Start Page 91, Quote Page 91, (Quotation
> appears in text and as a caption), International Magazine Company, New
> York. (Google Books Full View) link [/ref]
> https://books.google.com/books?id=GDtXAAAAYAAJ&q=grizzly#v=snippet&
> [Begin excerpt]
> "Quite so Blair. Now today the word is, hammer it! We have them on the
> run. Order our brokers to raid the stock. No half measures! If you are
> going to be a bear, be a grizzly! The sooner it is over the better.
> The Barnard & Wilkes outfit tried to deceive us, and they have brought
> it on themselves."
> [End excerpt]
> The saying achieved wider distribution in pop culture when it was
> spoken in the popular 1981 movie Cannonball Run:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3N44Swi3rnw
> Garson

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

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