[Ads-l] Quote: When you hear hoofbeats look for horses not zebras

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 27 12:05:53 EST 2017

> An unnamed doctor

My bitter experience is that physicians use the hell out of this
expression, if you try to disagree with their diagnoses, whether in reality
or on TV. <sigh!>

On Mon, Nov 27, 2017 at 11:32 AM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:

> The saying in the subject line was discussed on this mailing list way
> back in February and March 2010. The Dictionary of Modern Proverbs has
> a 1969 citation. Barry Popik located a snippet match in Google Books
> within a 1964 issue of "Reader's Digest". A librarian in Spokane,
> Washington helped me to acquire scans of the May 1964 issue containing
> the saying.
> I also pushed the date back to October 5, 1962. An unnamed doctor at
> the University of Arkansas School of Medicine employed the expression.
> Wikipedia has an entry titled "Zebra (medicine)" that mentions the
> adage, but it highlights indirect evidence in the form of long delayed
> oral testimony.
> Here is a link to the Quote Investigator article:
> https://quoteinvestigator.com/2017/11/26/zebras/
> [Begin acknowledgement excerpt]
> Great thanks to Kevin Holbeche whose inquiry led QI to formulate this
> question and perform this exploration. Special thanks to Dana
> Dalrymple of the Spokane Public Library for acquiring scans of the
> 1964 Reader’s Digest citation. Many thanks to Barry Popik and Charles
> Doyle for their pioneering research on this topic. Also thanks to
> discussants Joel S. Berson, Victor Steinbok, Jonathan Lighter, Dan
> Goncharoff, Ronald Butters Laurence Horn, Fred Shapiro, and Laurence
> Horn.
> [End acknowledgement excerpt]
> Feedback welcome
> Garson O'Toole
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

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

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