everybody’s business is nobody’s business

Cf. ARISTOTLE Politics II. i. ἥκιστα γὰρ επιμελείας τυγχάνει τὸ πλείστων κοινόν, a matter common to most men receives least attention.

1611 R. COTGRAVE Dict. French & English s.v. Ouvrage, Euerie bodies worke is no bodies worke.

1655 I. WALTON Compleat Angler (ed. 2) I. ii. A wise friend of mine did usually say, That which is every bodies businesse, is no bodies businesse.

1725 DEFOE (title) Every-Body’s Business, is No-Body’s Business;..exemplified in the pride of our Woman-Servants.

1914 G. B. SHAW Misalliance 10 ‘The danger of public business is that it never ends.’.. ‘What I say is that everybody’s business is nobody’s business.’

1981 D. CLARK Longest Pleasure v. It’s unfair to try to make points by misquoting. What you should have said is ‘everybody’s business is nobody’s business’, and that doesn’t fit our present case at all.


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