least said, soonest mended

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least said, soonest mended

Post by Ken Greenwald » Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:27 am

<2006 “Years later one teacher would tell a reporter, ‘He [[Marconi, radio]] always was a model of good behavior, but as to his brain—well, the least said the soonest mended.’”—Thunderstruck by Erik Larson, page 20>
LEAST SAID, SOONEST MENDED proverb: A difficulty or disagreement can best be resolved by avoiding discussion – talking will only make things worse; the less said, the better. The expression dates from the 18th century in this form, but the notion dates from the 15th century (see quote below) and where it appeared in the form, which is still seen, little said (is) soon amended (see 1555 quote below).

(Allen’s English Phrases, Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Random House Dictionary of America’s Popular Proverbs and Sayings)

This powerful, tried and true method of resolving a problem or disagreement is not smiled upon by today’s milquetoast conflict resolution mavens. (>:)

The following quotes are from the Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs and archived sources:
<1555 “Lyttle said, soone amended.”—Two Hundred Epigrams by John Heywood, No. 169>

<1776 “Mum’s the word; little said is soonest mended.”—John Buncle, Junior by T. Cogan, I. vi>

<1818 “A fine preaching has he been at the night . . . but maybe least said is sunest mended.”—Heart of Midlothian by Sir Walter Scott, I. vi>

<1960 “A quiet word . . . should . . . stop any further tale-bearing, and I really think it’s a case of ‘least said, soonest mended.’”—Fresh from the Country by Miss Read, xii>

<1976 “He was one of the consultants on the Vivian Beaumont Theater at Lincoln Center — least said, soonest mended — and his whole career tended toward an occasionally simplistic attitude toward theater consultancy.”—Wisconsin State Journal (Madison), 21 March, page 37>

<1992 “He was tempted to go down and confront her, . . . but he knew he was in the wrong. Least said, soonest mended: no good creating a fuss now.”—A Rather English Marriage by A. Lambert, xvii. page 289>

<1998 “The question is: has Beckham left him speechless or is it a case of least said, soonest mended?”—Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland), 9 August>

<2005 “The affair carried undeniable evidence of a dirty tricks campaign being waged against Burley. But he now takes the attitude that least said, soonest mended is his best policy.”––Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), 6 August>

<2011 “Unable to think of anything he could say or do that would not make matters worse, I told him it's an ill-judged comment from the parents, rude to everyone involved though perhaps well-meant, and probably a case of ‘least said, soonest mended.’—The Buffalo News (New York), 5 December>

Ken G – July 8, 2012

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