Come into the garden
Posted: 09 August 2010 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Having lately been led from this site to a number of discussions about “garden path sentences”, I was wondering: does anyone know where the expression “to lead s.o. up (or down) the garden path” comes from? That is to say, does it originate in a known verse, tale, or song?

So strong in my mind are the associations of the phrase with deception that whenever I hear a rendition of Come into the Garden, Maud I want to shout out: “Don’t do it, Maud! Don’t do it!”

[ Edited: 09 August 2010 10:14 AM by Macsen ]
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Posted: 09 August 2010 10:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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OED:

f. to lead (someone) up the garden (-path), to lead on, entice; mislead, deceive. colloq.
1925 E. MANNIN Sounding Brass I. viii, They’re cheats, that’s wot women are! Lead you up the garden and then go snivellin’ around ‘cos wot’s natcheral ‘as ‘appened to ‘em. 1927 G. D. H. & M. COLE Murder at Crome House ix. 94 To lead Flint up the garden-path and relieve him of his cash. 1957 I. MURDOCH Sandcastle ii. 29 I’m going to lead her up the garden. I’ve got her thoroughly foxed so far. 1963 Times 29 Jan. 12/6, I made these confessions to lead the police up the garden path.

Presumably if there were a known origin of the kind you suggest, they would mention it.

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