change the name and not the letter, change for the worse and not the better
- Explained in William Henderson’s Notes on the Folk Lore of the Northern Counties of England and the Borders (1866): ‘It is unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose surname begins with the same letter as her own’ (p. 26).
1853 Notes & Queries 1st ser. VIII. 150 Is the following distich known in any part of England? ‘To change the name but not the letter, Is to marry for worse, and not for better.’ I met with it in an American book, but it was probably an importation.
1936 T. C. H. JACOBS Appointment with Hangman ii. 18 ‘Change the name and not the letter, change for the worse and not the better. She ought to be warned about that.’
1950 woman from Forfar, Angus, quoted in I. OPIE & M. TATEM Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions (1996) 238 A change of name and not of letter Is a change for the worse and not the better.
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