you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy

Originally North American, it has generated a large variety of humorous by-forms.

1938 ‘B. BAER’ in Baer & Major Hollywood (caption to caricature of James Stewart) You can take a boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of a boy.

1950 F. BUNCE So Young a Body vii. ‘You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl,’ Remington interjected casually. ‘Ginnie’s from a crossroads in Vermont, and she’s still a small-town kid at heart.’

1978 W. B. MURPHY Leonardo’s Law x. ‘He was just something I picked up off the counter.’ She smiled. I guess you can take the girl out of the chorus line but you can’t take the chorus line out of the girl.

1987 Washington Post 27 Apr. C2 Back in the good old days, when eager young rubes were descending upon the great metropolises in search of fame and fortune, it used to be said that you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy.

1997 Times 19 Sept. 33 And, while you can take Björk out of Iceland, it seems you cannot take Iceland out of Björk’s music.

2001 National Review 20 Aug. 56 My own visceral responses to the case are distinctly Southern, which is about as far removed from the civilized response as you can get. You can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the girl, e.g., ‘Why doesn’t her father kill him?’


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