ask a silly question and you get a silly answer

With allusion to PROVERBS xxvi. 5 (AV) Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.

c 1300 South-English Legendary (EETS) 494 Ffor-sothe thou axest as a fol, and swich ansuere me schul the yive.

1484 CAXTON Aesop (1967) V. xiii. 158 And thus they wente withoute ony sentence For to a folysshe demaunde behoueth a folysshe ansuere.

1551 R. ROBYNSON tr. T. More’s Utopia I E4 For Salomon the wise sayeth: Answer a foole according to his folishnes, like as I do now.

c 1600 Tarlton’s Jests (1638) E2v The fellow seeing a foolish question had a foolish answere, laid his legges on his neck, and got him gone.

1721 J. KELLY Scottish Proverbs 35 A thraward [perverse] Question should a thraward Answer.

1934 C. RYLAND Murder on Cliff vi. If you ask me damned silly questions, I’m going to give you damned silly answers.

1969 ‘A. GILBERT’ Missing from her Home v. No, don’t bother to answer that. Ask a silly question and you get a silly answer.

1985 M. WESLEY Harnessing Peacocks (1990) v. 46 ‘Are you happy at school?’ Ask a silly question. ‘It’s all right.’ ‘What sort of answer is that?’ she cried in distress.


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