Chinese Proverb? Maimonides? Lao-Tzu? anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie? Italian Adage? indigenous American Saying? Mao Zedong?

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Dear Quote Investigator: The complying with piece the proverbial wisdom is substantial astute:

Give a male a fish, and you feeding him for a day. Teach a male to fish, and also you feeding him because that a lifetime.

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The origin of this assumed is highly contested. I have actually seen cases that that the adage is Chinese, aboriginal American, Italian, Indian, or Biblical. Occasionally it is attached to Lao-Tzu, Maimonides, or Mao Zedong. Would you please check out this topic?

Quote Investigator: The general principle the alleviating poor by facilitating self-sufficiency has a long history. The 12th-century philosopher Maimonides wrote about eight degrees in the duty of charity. In 1826 an explication of the eighth degree was released in a journal dubbed “The religious Intelligencer”. Boldface has been included to excerpts: 1

Lastly, the eighth and also the many meritorious of all, is to anticipate charity by staying clear of poverty, namely, to aid the diminished brother, either by a substantial gift or loan the money, or by to teach him a trade, or by putting him in the method of business, so that he may earn an moral livelihood and also not be compelled to the dreadful different of holding increase his hand because that charity. . .

The i above listed a theoretical match, but it go not mention the vivid job of fishing as an illustrative and also archetypal endeavor. In 1885 a statement the did describe fishing and partially matched the contemporary adage showed up in the novel “Mrs. Dymond” through the famous novelist ann Isabella Thackeray Ritchie. Together the daughter of the prominent writer william Makepeace Thackeray she was proceeding the family tradition of a life that letters. The second fifty percent of Ritchie’s statement did not straight refer to spend fish: 2

‘He definitely doesn’t practise his precepts, yet I suppose the Patron expected that if you give a male a fish he is hungry again in an hour. If girlfriend teach that to capture a fish you perform him a good turn. but these really elementary ethics are apt come clash with the leisure of the grew classes.’

The over passage from Ritchie achieved vast dissemination since the novel to be serialized in the leading periodicals “Macmillan’s Magazine” the London 3 and also “Littell’s life Age” of Boston, Massachusetts in 1885. 4 This crucial citation in “Mrs. Dymond” was mentioned by height researcher Ralph Keyes in the reference occupational “The Quote Verifier”. 5

The adage continued to evolve because that decades. In 1911 an circumstances used the adhering to phrase in the 2nd half: “he will be richer all his life”. Finally, in 1961 an instance employed the phrase “that will certainly feed him for a lifetime” i beg your pardon was comparable to modern versions.

Here are extr selected citations in chronological order.

In 1911 a repertoire of essays dubbed “The typical Growth” by M. Loane was published, and an “oft quoted saying” was included. This version did not use words such together “feed”, “eat”, or “hungry” to describe the consumption of fish, however it go state the the standing of the fisherman would be boosted for “all his life”: 6

It is an oft-quoted saying, and one complete of society wisdom: “Give a male a fish, and he will be hungry again to-morrow; teach the to record a fish, and also he will be richer all his life.”

Nevertheless, this walk not clear up all feasible questions as to the right method of help our neighbours. Suppose, to continue the figure of speech, that the man had never tasted fish, and also seriously wondered about whether it was a palatable or wholesome kind of nourishment; would it it is in practicable come induce him to make the exertion vital to get the art of fishing, unless you previously caught and also killed and cooked a fish because that him, presented it to him, and overcame his reluctance to eat it?

In 1945 one instance similar to the text above was published in a Wisconsin newspaper. The writer was a public wellness nurse, and also she labelled the expression “an old Indian proverb”: 7

In every public health and wellness program the aim is not only to do a given business but to teach the individual positive mindsets toward health and wellness which will benefit him transparent life. The objective is well declared in one old Indian proverb.

“If you provide a male a fish, he will be hungry tomorrow. If you teach a guy to fish, he will certainly be richer forever.”

In November 1961 the testimony of a missionary named Fred Nelson that had operated in Taiwan and mainland China to be presented in a Rockford, Illinois newspaper. Once discussing international aid, Nelson work a modern-day version of the saying and called that a “Chinese proverb”: 8

Foreign aid—“You offer a bad man a fish and also you feed him for a day. Friend teach him to fish and also you give him an occupation that will certainly feed him because that a lifetime.” (Chinese proverb.)

In October 1962 the “Winnipeg complimentary Press” the Winnipeg, Manitoba detailed that the saying was talked during a conference of the Winnipeg board of directors of females by miss out on Anna Speers who was mentioning her occupational on the Canadian freedom from Hunger Committee. Speers said a Chinese beginning for the expression: 9

As a installation motto because that the Committee’s work, miss Speers quoted a Chinese proverb: “If you give a man a fish, you feeding him for a day—if friend teach him to fish, you feeding him for many days.”

In may 1963 the adage showed up in “The Sunday Gleaner” of Kingston, Jamaica as an epigraph to an write-up titled “Tackling human being Hunger”, and the said provenance to be Italian: 10

GIVE A man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him exactly how to fish and you feeding him because that his life time. — Italian proverb.

In might 1963 a newspaper in van Buren, Missouri published the saying, and also indicated that it had been spoken during a convention hosted in Melbourne, Australia: 11

A quotation indigenous one convention speak was, “Give a guy a fish and also you feed him one meal. Teach him come fish and also he can feed himself for many meals.”

In November 1963 a speaker at a conference in Waco, Texas that the national Council of Jewish women employed the saying and labeled it a “Chinese proverb”: 12

“Since ns am speaking in worldwide terms ns remind girlfriend of a Chinese proverb, ‘give the a fish and he can eat yet teach him come fish and he can eat countless days."”

In 1970 the book “VISTA: challenge to Poverty” by Susan Whittlesey to be published. VISTA referred to a national service organization whose name was acronymic: volunteers In company To America. The author argued that the saying was “an old Navajo proverb”: 13

“One the the hardest things about being a VISTA,” explains Mary, “is that we’re never allowed to do anything for world directly, not also fill the end forms. This isn’t constantly easy, yet it’s the only way.”

There is one old Navajo proverb i beg your pardon VISTAS must regularly remind themselves of:

Give a guy a fish, and also you feed him for a day. Teach a guy to fish, and you feeding him for a lifetime.

In 1976 a book about public policy titled “Africa: From mystery to Maze” to be released, and a version of the saying was connected to Lao-Tzu and also Mao Zedong: 14

To depicted Lao-tse and Chairman Mao, have the right to the American human being understand that it is far better to teach a guy to fish than to offer him a fish? Hero’s finding the the American windy strongly support technical aid to deliver American know-how says that lock can.

In 1986 an article about bodywork in “Yoga Journal” ascribed the saying to Lao-Tzu: 15

Lao Tsu said that if you offer a hungry guy a fish, you feeding him for a day, but if friend teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

In conclusion, this short article presents a photo of the incomplete understanding available. Based on current evidence Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie deserves credit transaction for formulating a striking adage that offered fishing as a paradigmatic task enabling self-sufficiency. The saying developed over time and became an ext memorable by pointing out the capacity to eat for a lifetime. The case that the adage to be an old proverb from China, Italy, India or elsewhere has just weak support at this time.

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Image Notes: photo of ann Isabella Thackeray Ritchie through Julia Margaret Cameron native The arts Institute of Chicago circa 1870 via Wikimedia Commons. Picture of a fisherman in a watercraft from mydaydream in ~ Pixabay.

(Great many thanks to Michael Becket whose inquiry led QI to build this question and also perform this exploration. Extr thanks to the researchers Ralph Keyes and also his book “The Quote Verifier”, Fred R. Shapiro and also his publication “The Yale book of Quotations”, Barry Popik and his website “The large Apple”. Additionally thanks to the ADS discussants George Thompson and also Victor Steinbok.)