[Ads-l] Modern Proverb: Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Fri Nov 11 14:20:24 UTC 2016

Jesus says: "Blessed is the lion which a man eats so that the lion becomes a man. But cursed is the man whom a lion eats so that the man becomes a lion!"

Gospel of Thomas, 7.

Stephen Goranson


From: American Dialect Society <...> on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole <...>
Sent: Thursday, November 10, 2016 1:44:04 PM
Subject: [ADS-L] Modern Proverb: Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you

I was sent a request to examine the saying in the subject line which I
think can be grouped together with some other statements:

1) Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.
2) Sometimes you hunt the bear, and sometimes the bear hunts you.
3) Sometimes you get the bear, and sometimes the bear gets you.

This topic was mentioned on this list in 2004 and 2010. There is an
entry in the DMP and on Barry Popik's website. The QI website now has
an entry with supplementary information:


[Begin acknowledgement]
Great thanks to Sandra Ikuta whose inquiry led QI to formulate this
question and perform this exploration. Thanks to the 2004 mailing list
discussants including: Barry Popik, Wilson Gray, Susan Yerkes, Rima
McKinzey, and Laurence Horn. Thanks to the 2010 mailing list
discussants including: Arnold Zwicky, Laurence Horn, Mark Mandel, and
Charles Doyle. In addition, thanks to Doyle et al for the entry in
"The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs", and thanks to Doyle for verifying
the 1939 citation. Also, gratitude to Barry Popik for his further
valuable research.
[End acknowledgment]


Feedback welcome,
Garson O'Toole

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

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