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.
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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
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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
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