one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb

The proverb alludes to the former penalty for sheep-stealing. The idea is present in: 1662 N. ROGERS Rich Fool 253 As some desperate Wretches, Who dispairing of life still act the more villainy, giving this desperate Reason of it, As good be hanged for a great deal, as for a little.

1678 J. RAY English Proverbs (ed. 2) 350 As good be hang’d for an old sheep as a young lamb. Somerset.

1732 T. FULLER Gnomologia no. 683 As good be hang’d for a Sheep as a Lamb.

1836 MARRYAT Midshipman Easy II. ii. We may as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb... I vote that we do not go on board.

1841 DICKENS Barnaby Rudge liii. Others..comforted themselves with the homely proverb, that, being hung at all, they might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.

1915 D. H. LAWRENCE Rainbow vi. One might as well be hung for a sheep as for a lamb. If he had lost this day of his life, he had lost it.

1977 B. PYM Quartet in Autumn xv. Letty..decided that she might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and make the most of her meal.


Proverbs new dictionary.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • sheep — see better to live one day as a tiger than a thousand years as a sheep a bleating sheep loses a bite one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • lamb — see the bleating of the kid excites the tiger God tempers the wind to the shorn lamb one might as well be hanged for a sheep as a lamb March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Thematic Index — absence absence makes the heart grow fonder he who is absent is always in the wrong the best of friends must part blue are the hills that are far away distance lends enchantment to the view out of sight, out of mind …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Introduction — The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs provides a general history of proverbs in common use in Britain in the last two hundred years. Some of the proverbs have been in use throughout the English speaking world for many years; others… …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • hang — see hang a thief when he’s young, and he’ll no’ steal when he’s old a creaking door hangs longest give a dog a bad name and hang him every herring must hang by its own gill give a man rope enough and he will hang himself …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • completion — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) Finishing of an action Nouns 1. completion; accomplishment, achievement, fulfillment, realization, fruition; execution, performance; dispatch; consummation, culmination; finish, close, end; terminus (see …   English dictionary for students

  • Perverse incentive — A perverse incentive is an incentive that has an unintended and undesirable effect, that is against the interest of the incentive makers. Perverse incentives by definition produce negative unintended consequences. It is a term first coined by… …   Wikipedia

  • biblical literature — Introduction       four bodies of written works: the Old Testament writings according to the Hebrew canon; intertestamental works, including the Old Testament Apocrypha; the New Testament writings; and the New Testament Apocrypha.       The Old… …   Universalium

  • United Kingdom — a kingdom in NW Europe, consisting of Great Britain and Northern Ireland: formerly comprising Great Britain and Ireland 1801 1922. 58,610,182; 94,242 sq. mi. (244,100 sq. km). Cap.: London. Abbr.: U.K. Official name, United Kingdom of Great… …   Universalium

  • Italy — /it l ee/, n. a republic in S Europe, comprising a peninsula S of the Alps, and Sicily, Sardinia, Elba, and other smaller islands: a kingdom 1870 1946. 57,534,088; 116,294 sq. mi. (301,200 sq. km). Cap.: Rome. Italian, Italia. * * * Italy… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.