Pascal Trégueretymology, French/English, literatureanimals, dictionaries, food, Italy, Jonathan Swift, Latin, mythology, phrases, Scotland2 Comments

The phrase to teach one’s grandmother come suck eggs means to presume to recommend a much more experienced person.

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Raw eggs, through or without a tiny seasoning, provided to it is in a famous food and also were regarded as healthy. Grandmothers obviously needed no instruction around how to drink them.

The expression is very first recorded in a translation native Spanish by Captain man Stevens (circa 1662-1726), titled The Comical functions of Don Francisco Quevedo¹, author of the Visions (1707):

You would have me teach mine Grandame come suck Eggs.

The word grandame, from grand and dame, means grandmother. Dating earlier to the beforehand 13th century, that is the oldest of the English regards to relationship formed with grand-.

(¹ Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Villegas (1580-1645) was a influential Spanish poet and satirist.)

The irish satirist, poet and also Anglican cleric Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) additionally used the expression in A finish Collection the Genteel and Ingenious Conversation, published in 1738 however written in the first decade of the 18th century:

– miss Notable: Lord! I have actually torn my Petticoat v your odious Romping. <…> – Mr. Neverout: I’ll mend it, Miss. – miss Notable: You mend it! go, teach your Grannam to suck Eggs.

This publication by Jonathan Swift is a satire top top the use of clichés: that purported author, Simon Wagstaff, “can faithfully guarantee the Reader, the there is no one solitary witty expression in this entirety Collection, which hath not got the Stamp and also Approbation of at least one hundred Years.” The phrase to teach one’s grandmother come suck eggs was therefore already proverbial in the early on 18th century.

A an interpretation was offered in Dictionarium Britannicum: Or a more Compleat universal Etymological English dictionary Than any type of Extant (1736 edition), by the English languist Nathan Bailey (died 1742):

Teach your Grannum (Grandameto suck Eggs. A Reproof to those, that think lock have more Knowledge 보다 the totality World, and also will it is in ever and anon to teach those who have actually had much more Experience than themselves. The scotsman say: discover your Goodam to make Milk-Kail (Milk-Pottage) or, Teach your Father to obtain Bairns (Children). Latin: Sus Minervam. French: Les Oisons mènent les Oyes paître (i.e.) the Goslings command the Geese come the Pasture. We say likewise, teach your Granny to grope her Goose. The Italians: ns paperi voglion menar à bene l’oche.

The Italian expression cited through this thesaurus is properly i paperi voglion menare a bere l’oche and means the goslings want to take it the geese to drink.

This dictionary additionally mentions the Latin phrase sus Minervam (docet), which means a sow, or a swineteaches Minerva (Minerva to be the roman goddess the wisdom). This proverb was supplied in Latin literary works to condemn the presumption of stupid and also ignorant people who would undertake come instruct those from who they themselves should take instruction.

This Latin expression was cited, and another English proverb, by the English cleric and also author Edward Topsell (circa 1572-1625) in The history of Four-footed Beasts and also Serpents:

(1658 edition) In Latin castle say Sus Minervam, when an unlearned dunce goeth around to teach his better or a much more learned man, then doth the Hog teach Pallas², or as we say in English, the foul Sow teach the fair Lady come spin.

(² Pallas: the patron goddess that Athens, frequently allegorised into a personification the wisdom. Minerva was her roman equivalent.)

Nathan Bailey likewise mentions the proverb teach your granny come grope she goose. A different is uncovered in A Dictionarie the the French and also English Tongues (1611), a French-English thesaurus compiled by Randle Cotgrave:

Apprendre aux poissons à nager. To teach fishes come swimme; (an idle, vaine, or needlesse labour) us say, to teach his grandame to grope ducks.

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To grope a fowl means to usage the finger to measure the distance in between its pelvic bones: if these are close together, the is not laying and can it is in consigned come the pot.

But, as John Greaves Nall noted in An etymological and comparative glossary of the Dialect and Provincialisms the East-Anglia (1866) about the proverb teach her grandame come grope she ducks,

now-a-days the good old lady is teach ‘to sucking eggs.’

In his French-English dictionary, Randle Cotgrave additionally mentioned the French proverbs l’oison n’est pas digne de montrer les pâquis à l’oie (the gosling is no worthy to show the pastures to the goose), les oisons mènent paître les oies (the goslings lead the geese come the pasture) and l’oie mène l’oison paître (the goose leads the gosling to the pasture):

– L’oison n’est pas digne de monstrer les pasquis à l’oye. (A checke for young males that presume to teach your elders.) – Les oisons menent paistre les oyes : Prov. (Said as soon as subiects gouerne your Princes, children their parents, meane males the Magistrates, and seruants or schollers their maisters; and also is a note as well of weakenesse in the Geese, together of sawcinesse in the Goslings.) – L’oye meine l’oison paistre: Prov. The Goose leads the end the Gosling come the field; (contrarie to the former, and also an argument of a well-proportioned gouernment.)