Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Ewers & Mine

I was able to solve a domestic dispute this afternoon on Lew Gatch’s Everybody’s Planning Hour, heard on WMKV-fm, Cincinnati. I covered the subject in a blog about four years ago, but to some people it will be new.

John from Cincinnati thought that the folk saying was, “little pictures have big ears.” His wife held out for, “little pitchers have big ears.” I hope she wasn’t listening or that John knows how to eat crow.

Children used to be called “little pitchers” because their head and prominent ears looked like a container for liquids with projecting handles. [Remember Alfred E. Neuman?]

The standard saying was, "Little pitchers have big ears," meaning, "Watch outthe kid's listening! Be careful what you say!"

"Little pitchers have big/wide ears" showed up in early collections of proverbs, such as John Heywood’s Proverbs (1546) and Nathan Bailey’s Dictionary of Proverbs (1721).

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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