[Ads-l] Adage: Hurt people hurt people

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Mon Sep 16 14:23:36 UTC 2019

A journalist at Slate just asked me to investigate the saying in the
subject line. Apparently, it is used in the new film Hustlers.
Previous inquiries were sent to me in 2014 and 2016, so I decided to
create a QI entry:


The earliest match I found appeared in an Amarillo, Texas newspaper in
1959. A columnist described a meeting of the Parent Teacher
Association held at a local Junior High. One of the speakers was named
Charles Eads.

[ref] 1959 February 26, Amarillo Globe-Times, Polk Street Professor,
Quote Page 30, Column 1, Amarillo, Texas. (Newspapers_com) [/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
Charles claimed the teacher’s job is to take 25 or 30 live wires and
make sure they are well grounded. And he said the human anatomy is a
most peculiar mechanism. If you pat it on the back it often makes the
head swell.

Then he made a statement that might give pause to a student of
psychology. It’s worded peculiarly. The statement is, “Hurt people
hurt people.” So, maybe before I wound someone next time, I’ll stop
and think if it’s because I’ve been hurt, myself.
[End excerpt]

Feedback welcome

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list