Famous Sayings #8 — ‘Spare the Rod…’

May 1, 2016

“Spare the rod and spoil the child.”

Spanking. Chances are you were spanked at least once as a child or know someone who was. Whether or not you agree with corporal punishment, you might have heard this phrase, too.

What Is the Origin of This Phrase?

My search first took me to ReligiousTolerance.org. The page I landed on discussed how corporal punishment was addressed in the Bible. One important point brought up was that the current form of the saying “Spare the rod…” did not come from the Bible but a more than 350-year-old poem by Samuel Butler.

The name of the poem by Butler is Hudibras. The poem was satirical in nature and aimed at both factions of the English Civil War (Martin). ReligiousTolerance.org names 1664 as the year that the poem was first published, while Gary Martin (The Phrase Finder) cites 1662.

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