all your eggs in one basket
Posted: 14 January 2012 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  4724
Joined  2007-01-29

A friend asked me about the phrase “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” The Online Etym Dict (usually pretty reliable) says: “The figure of speech represented in to have all (one’s) eggs in one basket is attested by 1660s,” and this site says “the first certain recorded use is in a 1660 text, where it is clearly already a well known proverb”—but neither gives a citation.  Anybody know what that 1660 use might have been?  (My 2nd ed. OED lists the phrase but has no cites.  The Big List has all your base but not all your egg.)

Posted: 14 January 2012 07:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  656
Joined  2011-04-10

According to B. J. Herbison, attribution of “all your egg” to a passage from Don Quixote seems to have been an artifact of translation from the Italian: 

If you look up the source of `don’t keep all your eggs in one basket’ in any standard source (such as Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations) you will find a citation like:

“It is the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.”—Sancho Panza

Don Quixote (Part I, Book III, Chapter 9) by Miguel de Cervantes [1547-1616].


1662 G. Torriano Italian Proverbial Phrases

125 To put all ones Eggs in a Paniard, viz. to hazard all in one bottom.

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, John Simpson, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Thanks to B. J. Herbison at:

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra was born 1548 (day unknown); died 23 April 1616 (according to wikipedia)

[Please note: I have not been able discover the name of the 1660’s text.
I did see a reference to “trust all one’s goods to one ship” but that points back to Torriano’s work.]

[ Edited: 14 January 2012 10:09 PM by sobiest ]
Posted: 14 January 2012 10:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  3133
Joined  2007-01-30

Earliest cite in the Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs is 1710, although it does reference a similar cconstruction from 1617.

(Cf. 1617 A. SWETNAM School of Defence 56 He is a fool which will adventure all his goods in one ship.)

1710 S.PALMER Moral Essays on Prov.344 Don’t venture all your eggs in one basket.

Posted: 15 January 2012 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  873
Joined  2007-06-20

Strangely, “don’t put all your Basques in one exit” doesn’t seem to go back much further than about 1939, according to Google Books.

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