better a dinner of herbs than a stalled ox where hate is

Herbs here is used in the archaic sense of ‘plants of which the leaves are used as food’, and a stalled ox is one that is fattened in a stall for slaughter. With allusion to PROVERBS xv. 17 (Geneva (1560) translation, which is closely followed by AV) Better is a dinner of green herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.

1817 S. SMITH Letter 13 Mar. in S. Holland Memoir (1855) II. 138 When you think of that amorous and herbivorous parish of Covent Garden, and compare it with my agricultural benefice, you will say, ‘Better is the dinner of herbs where love is, than the stalled ox,’ etc. etc.

1914 ‘SAKI’ Beasts & Super-Beasts 227 The ox had finished the vase-flowers..and appeared to be thinking of leaving its rather restricted quarters... I forget how the proverb runs... Something about ‘better a dinner of herbs than a stalled ox where hate is’.

1979 J. DRUMMOND I saw Him Die viii. ‘Lunch was a silent affair... I said, “Better a dinner of herbs than a stalled ox where hate is.”’


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  • hate — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) Intense dislike Nouns 1. hate, hatred, abhorrence, loathing; disaffection, disfavor; alienation, estrangement, coolness; enmity, hostility, animosity, resentment; spite, despite, bad blood; malice (see… …   English dictionary for students

  • 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

  • herb — see better a dinner of herbs than a stalled ox where hate is …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • ox — see better a dinner of herbs than a stalled ox where hate is …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • stall — see better a dinner of herbs than a stalled ox where hate is …   Proverbs new dictionary

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