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

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

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

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The beginning of this assumed is highly contested. I have actually seen insurance claims that that the adage is Chinese, indigenous American, Italian, Indian, or Biblical. Periodically it is connected to Lao-Tzu, Maimonides, or Mao Zedong. Would you please explore this topic?

Quote Investigator: The general principle that alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency has actually a long history. The 12th-century theorist Maimonides wrote about eight levels in the duty of charity. In 1826 one explication that the eighth level was published in a journal dubbed “The spiritual Intelligencer”. Boldface has been added to excerpts: 1

Lastly, the eighth and the many meritorious the all, is come anticipate charity by avoiding poverty, namely, to aid the reduced brother, one of two people by a considerable gift or loan the money, or by teaching him a trade, or by putting him in the method of business, so the he might earn an moral livelihood and also not be forced to the dreadful different of holding up his hand because that charity. . .

The i above provided a conceptual match, yet it did not mention the vivid task of fishing together an illustrative and archetypal endeavor. In 1885 a statement that did describe fishing and partially suitable the modern adage appeared in the novel “Mrs. Dymond” by the famous novelist ann Isabella Thackeray Ritchie. As the daughter the the influential writer wilhelm Makepeace Thackeray she was proceeding the family tradition of a life of letters. The second fifty percent of Ritchie’s statement go not straight refer to spend fish: 2

‘He definitely doesn’t practise his precepts, however I mean the Patron supposed that if you give a guy a fish the is hungry again in one hour. If girlfriend teach him to catch a fish you carry out him a good turn. however these very elementary values are apt to clash through the leisure of the cultivated classes.’

The over passage from Ritchie achieved broad dissemination since the novel was serialized in the leading periodicals “Macmillan’s Magazine” of London 3 and “Littell’s life Age” the Boston, Massachusetts in 1885. 4 This essential citation in “Mrs. Dymond” was stated by optimal researcher Ralph Keyes in the reference work “The Quote Verifier”. 5

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

Here are extr selected citations in chronological order.

In 1911 a arsenal of essays referred to as “The common Growth” by M. Loane to be published, and also an “oft quoted saying” to be included. This version did not usage words such together “feed”, “eat”, or “hungry” to refer to the intake of fish, yet it go state the the condition of the fisherman would certainly be improved for “all his life”: 6

It is an oft-quoted saying, and one full of social wisdom: “Give a male a fish, and he will be hungry again to-morrow; teach him to catch a fish, and also he will be richer every his life.”

Nevertheless, this go not work out all possible questions as to the right an approach of helping our neighbours. Suppose, to proceed the number of speech, the the man had actually never taste fish, and also seriously questioned whether it was a palatable or wholesome type of nourishment; would certainly it it is in practicable come induce him to do the exertion necessary to get the art of fishing, uneven you formerly caught and killed and also cooked a fish because that him, gift it to him, and also overcame his reluctance to eat it?

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

In every public wellness program the target is not only to execute a given service but to teach the separation, personal, instance positive attitudes toward health and wellness which will benefit him transparent life. The purpose is well declared in an old Indian proverb.

“If you give a guy a fish, he will certainly be hungry tomorrow. If girlfriend teach a man to fish, he will be richer forever.”

In November 1961 the testimony of a missionary named Fred Nelson who had operated in Taiwan and also mainland China to be presented in a Rockford, Illinois newspaper. As soon as discussing foreign aid, Nelson work a modern version of the saying and called the a “Chinese proverb”: 8

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

In October 1962 the “Winnipeg complimentary Press” that Winnipeg, Manitoba listed that the speak was spoken during a conference of the Winnipeg board of directors of ladies by miss out on Anna Speers that was pointing out her work on the Canadian freedom from Hunger Committee. Speers argued a Chinese origin for the expression: 9

As a fitting motto for the Committee’s work, miss out on Speers quoted a Chinese proverb: “If you provide a guy a fish, you feeding him because that a day—if girlfriend teach him come fish, you feeding him for countless days.”

In might 1963 the adage appeared in “The Sunday Gleaner” that Kingston, Jamaica as an epigraph to an write-up titled “Tackling civilization Hunger”, and the suggested provenance was Italian: 10

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

In may 1963 a newspaper in valve Buren, Missouri printed the saying, and indicated the it had actually been talked during a convention hosted in Melbourne, Australia: 11

A quotation from one convention speaker was, “Give a guy a fish and you feed him one meal. Teach him come fish and also he can feed self for plenty of meals.”

In November 1963 a speak at a meeting in Waco, Texas that the national Council the Jewish females employed the saying and labeled that a “Chinese proverb”: 12

“Since i am speak in international terms i remind friend of a Chinese proverb, ‘give that a fish and also he can eat however teach him come fish and also he can eat countless days."”

In 1970 the book “VISTA: difficulty to Poverty” by Susan Whittlesey was published. VISTA described a national company organization whose surname was acronymic: volunteer In service To America. The author said that the saying was “an old Navajo proverb”: 13

“One the the hardest things around being a VISTA,” explains Mary, “is the we’re never permitted to perform anything for human being directly, not also fill the end forms. This isn’t always easy, however it’s the just way.”

There is one old Navajo proverb i m sorry VISTAS must regularly remind themselves of:

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

In 1976 a book around 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 pictured Lao-tse and Chairman Mao, have the right to the American civilization understand the it is far better to teach a male to fish than to provide him a fish? Hero’s finding that the American publicly strongly supports technical aid to deliver American know-how argues that they can.

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

Lao Tsu claimed that if you provide a hungry male a fish, you feeding him for a day, yet if girlfriend teach him exactly 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 proof Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie deserves credit for formulating a highlight adage that provided fishing together a paradigmatic task enabling self-sufficiency. The saying developed over time and became much more memorable by mentioning the capability to eat for a lifetime. The claim that the adage to be an old proverb from China, Italy, India or elsewhere has only weak assistance at this time.

See more: _______ Is The Art Of Persuasive Speaking Or Writing., Communications Mid Term Review Units 1

Image Notes: picture of ann Isabella Thackeray Ritchie through Julia Margaret Cameron indigenous The arts Institute the Chicago circa 1870 via Wikimedia Commons. Image of a fisherman in a watercraft from mydaydream at Pixabay.

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