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Where did that phrase come from - Bound and determined
Stan St. Clair

The question of the origin of this phrase had been unresolved before my research, as far as I could tell. It simply means one is firmly resolved not to change their will on an issue no matter what others think. 

Bound has been in use in English since 1387 to mean “tied or fastened.” The person is bound or obliged to follow through.

The earliest known citation of this actual expression is in Sir Walter Raleigh’s “History of the World,” the Second Book of the First Part, page 552, 1614:

“…as it were in a dreame) that he entered Jerusalem, and layed (laid) hands on Jehoiakim: whom he first bound and determined to fend (send) to Babylon, but changing befell he caused him to be flane (slain) in the place, and gaue (gave) him the Sepulcher of an Asse, to be deuoured (devoured) by beasts and ravenous birds ...”

This reference, likely the actual first, may give us a clue to how it came to be used as it is; likely a misinterpretation of the author’s intended usage. A slight variation in this meaning comes in 1658, just a few years later, in “To Diapheronta,” or “Divine Characters,” in Two Parts by Samuel Crook and Christopher Barker, chapter XI, Part 1, on page 105.

“Sinne hath now bound and determined it to sinne, not to sin by compulsion, but of choice; not in the nature, but in the use of it; not in this, that it actually willeth; but, in that it cannot now of itself will what in duty it should. So it freely willeth …” 

From this we can clearly understand how this saying could have come to mean what it does today. By the Christian teaching that all are bound by sin at birth, the analogy was used here “sin(ne) hath bound and determined it ...”

In Great Britain’s Parliamentary Register, recorded by John Almond and John Debrett, 1787, the term is used to describe legal obligations of the court.

“The sense of the court is to be bound and determined by a majority of votes…”

By the 20th century, the phrase had evolved to the common use of today. Jean Stratton-Porter, in her novel, “Keeper of the Bees,” 1930, on page 266, wrote the following:

“He just seemed bound and determined to do everything in the world except the thing she wanted to do.”


If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at stan@stclair.net.