little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape

Cf. late 14th-cent. Fr. les petits larrons sont penduez, non pas les grands, little thieves are hanged, not big ones.

1639 J. CLARKE Parœmiologia Anglo-Latina 172 Little theeves are hang’d, but great ones escape.

1979 Daily Telegraph 22 Nov. 18 In view of the Blunt affair, I am reminded of the proverb, ‘Little thieves are hanged but great ones escape.’


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  • great — see a great book is a great evil great minds think alike great oaks from little acorns grow death is the great leveller little strokes fell great oaks little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • little — adjective see there is no little enemy little fish are sweet a little knowledge is a dangerous thing little leaks sink the ship little pitchers have large ears a little pot is soon hot …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • escape — see little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape …   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

  • 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

  • thief — see set a thief to catch a thief hang a thief when he’s young, and he’ll no’ steal when he’s old there is honour among thieves the more laws, the more thieves and bandits little thieves are hanged, but great ones escape …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • literature — /lit euhr euh cheuhr, choor , li treuh /, n. 1. writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest, are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays. 2.… …   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

  • Russia — /rush euh/, n. 1. Also called Russian Empire. Russian, Rossiya. a former empire in E Europe and N and W Asia: overthrown by the Russian Revolution 1917. Cap.: St. Petersburg (1703 1917). 2. See Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. 3. See Russian… …   Universalium

  • United States — a republic in the N Western Hemisphere comprising 48 conterminous states, the District of Columbia, and Alaska in North America, and Hawaii in the N Pacific. 267,954,767; conterminous United States, 3,022,387 sq. mi. (7,827,982 sq. km); with… …   Universalium

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