Dog Words & Phrases

Once Bitten, Twice Shy

Meaning: An event that produces a bad experience is sensibly avoided thereafter.

Origins and History: Various expressions with much the same meaning have appeared in English since before the time of Chaucer – such as “A burnt child dreads the fire” (1320) – and William Caxton’s translation of Aesop’s fables (1484) contains at least two stories with the same moral; however, it was not until the 1850s that the notion of biting arose in the context, and only in the 1890s that the exact wording of the phrase was first recorded, in Folk Phrases of Four Counties by G. F. Northall

*From the book Dog the Wag by Mike Darton

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