Q: In your short article last month around the verb “suck” and also its relatives, you describe several negative senses that “suck eggs.” but you didn’t comment on the only usage I had heard: “Don’t teach your grandmother to suck eggs.”

A: the old rebuke, “Don’t teach your grandmother (how) to suck eggs,” has been provided for thousands of years to placed down presumptuous upstarts, though it’s not heard lot now.

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As the Oxford English Dictionary explains, the proverbial expression is “said to those who presume to offer advice to others that are more experienced.”

In A thesaurus of Slang and also Unconventional English, Eric Partridge states teaching granny below is come “give advice to one’s senior; esp. Come instruct an skilled in his own expertise.”

The earliest instance in the OED is indigenous The Comical works of Don Francisco de Quevedo, a 1707 translate into by john Stevens of the Spanish writer’s poems and also plays: “You would have actually me teach my Grandame come suck Eggs.”

We haven’t found any wording like this in the initial Spanish, so we assume Stevens was translating loosely and using a similar English expression.

Jonathan Swift supplied the maxim a few decades later on in Genteel Conversation, a 1738 satire on exactly how to converse in society: “Go, teach her Grannam come suck Eggs.”

Many various other languages have actually expressions about trying to teach one’s betters what they already know. These are regularly translated right into English together “Don’t teach her grandmother come suck eggs,” even though that’s not the yes, really wording.

Here are some of these proverbs, and also their literal translations:

Latin: Ne sus Minervam doceat (“A sow does not teach Minerva ”); Delphinum natare doces (“You’re teaching a dolphin come swim”); Aquilam volare doces (“You’re teaching an eagle to fly”); À bove majori discit arare minor (“The young ox learns to plow indigenous the elder”).

French: Les oisons veulent mener les ois paître (“The goslings desire to journey the geese come pasture”); Il ne faux pas apprendre aux poissons à nager (“One does not teach fish come swim”).

Italian: Insegnar nuotare ai pesci (“To teach fish come swim”); L’uovo ne vuol saper più della gallina (“The egg need to not know more than the hen”).

German: Er will seinen Vater lernen Kinder erziehen (“He would certainly teach his father to progressive children”); Das Ei will klüger sein als dice Henne (“The egg wants to be wiser than the hen”).

Spanish: Aún no ha salido del cascarón y ya tiene presunción (“He hasn’t left the shell, but he’s already being presumptuous”).

Portuguese: Ensinar o Pai-Nosso ao vigário (“Teach the Lord’s Prayer to the vicar”).

There have actually been plenty of English variations on the theme, part dating ago to the so late 1500s, follow Partridge.

The upstart has actually been admonished not to teach a granny (or granny, granddame, etc.) to spin, steal sheep, milk ducks, grope a goose (check because that eggs), sup sour milk, or roast eggs, amongst other things.

As because that the variation you asked around (“Don’t teach her grandmother to suck eggs”), we’ve never ever seen an decisive explanation because that what the literally means.

See more: Causes Of The Townshend Act Did All Of The Following Except:

But us assume the “suck eggs” here simply describes extracting the yolk and also white from an eggshell. This suggest was make in an anonymous parody in beat (“Pristine Proverbs ready for Precocious Pupils,” Jan. 25, 1873):

Teach no a parent’s mom to extractThe embryo juices of an egg by suction;That good old lady can the feat enactQuite regardless of whether of your type instruction

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