Sometime last year I noticed in one of the unsolicited five-star reviews of my original volume, “Most Comprehensive Origins of Clichés, Proverbs and Figurative Expressions,” that the reviewer had mentioned that “the proof is in the pudding” was missing from this book, and suggested I add it in the next revision.
What he failed to realize is that this well-known proverb is in Volume II of this series of three.
The entire series contains well over 4,000 entries, of which many are very old and some are relatively recent in origin.
The original saying was, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Through the ages, like many other proverbs, it evolved to what we have today. The intended meaning is that in order to really understand anything, one had to experience it for himself or herself.
In past centuries in England, pudding didn’t mean a sweet dessert, it meant sausage, since this word originally applied to something whipped up from the entrails of a hog. The earliest printed example available, in which this seems evident, is from “The History of the Renowned Don Quixote,” de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedras, in the 1719 English translation of Volume II, page 139:
“But you’ll guess at the Meat presently by the Sauce; the Proof of the Pudding is in the eating, Master …”
The original version was being used until well into the 20th century. The earliest known example of the current rendition comes in the December, 1927 edition of “Professional Engineer,” page 27:
“The Proof Is in the Pudding. Proof that Professional Engineer is one of those publications read from ‘kiver to kiver’ is found in a newspaper clipping from New Orleans which matches Phoenix Chapter’s boast of being served dates …”
If you would like to know the origin of a favorite expression, text the author at 931-212-3303 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.