[Ads-l] "Fish Without a Bicycle" Quote

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 11 16:23:39 EDT 2016

The "man without faith is like a fish without a bicycle" line, which was coined in 1958 by Charles S. Harris and clearly seems to be the precursor for the feminist version, is covered by the Yale Book of Quotations on page 342.  There is an 1898 occurrence of a "cow without a bicycle" quote.

I can't figure out the Quotation of the Year definitively until I see what else Mr. Trump may come up with in the weeks ahead.

Fred Shapiro

From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL>
Sent: Tuesday, October 11, 2016 4:11 PM
Subject: Re: "Fish Without a Bicycle" Quote

> -----Original Message-----

> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of Shapiro, Fred

> Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2016 2:46 PM


> Subject: "Fish Without a Bicycle" Quote



> I took a break from wondering whether I have to make a quotation about grabbing women "by the pussy" as my Quotation of the Year to

> revisit one of my favorite quotes of the past half-century.

Let us know when you figure it out.



> Bill Mullins has pushed the earliest documented example of "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle" back to June 5, 1976.

> Garson O'Toole pushed the earliest attestation of the similar "[A] woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" back to May 5, 1976.



The following predecessor is mentioned in the archives, but I don't see it accurately dated anywhere:

_Madison [WI] Capital Times_ 25 July 1972 p 32 col 4 [newspaperarchive.com]

"While I have felt for years that a man without religion is like a fish without a bicycle, I long ago gave up fighting people's superstitious beliefs."


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