fish and guests smell after three days

Cf. PLAUTUS Miles Gloriosus 1. 741 nam hospes nullus tam in amici hospitium devorti potest, quin, ubi triduom continuom fuerit, iam odiosus siet, no host can be hospitable enough to prevent a friend who has descended on him from becoming tiresome after three days.

1580 LYLY Euphues & his England II. 81 As we say in Athens, fishe and gestes in three dayes are stale.

1648 HERRICK Hesperides 169 Two dayes y’ave larded here; a third yee know, Makes guests and fish smell strong; pray go.

1736 B. FRANKLIN Poor Richard’s Almanack (Jan.) Fish and visitors smell in three days.

1869 Notes & Queries 4th ser. IV. 272 ‘See that you wear not out your welcome.’ This is an elegant rendering of the vulgar saying that ‘Fish and company stink in three days’.

1985 J. S. BORTHWICK Down East Murders iv. How long should she stay? She remembered the universal truth that fish and guests smell after three days.

2001 Washington Times 21 Nov. B1 Fish and visitors smell after three days, the old adage goes. Yet the experience of hosting a crowd for an extended time over the holidays need not leave a bad taste—or odor—for someone prepared to cope.


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