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

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

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

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The beginning of this believed is extremely contested. I have seen insurance claims that that the adage is Chinese, indigenous American, Italian, Indian, or Biblical. Occasionally it is linked to Lao-Tzu, Maimonides, or Mao Zedong. Would certainly you please discover this topic?

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

Lastly, the eighth and also the many meritorious that all, is come anticipate charity by preventing poverty, namely, to aid the diminished brother, either by a considerable gift or loan that money, or by to teach him a trade, or by placing him in the method of business, so the he may earn an honest livelihood and also not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding up his hand for charity. . .

The i above detailed a conceptual match, but it walk not mention the vivid job of fishing together an illustrative and also archetypal endeavor. In 1885 a statement the did describe fishing and partially suitable the contemporary adage appeared in the novel “Mrs. Dymond” through the popular novelist ann Isabella Thackeray Ritchie. Together the daughter that the prominent writer william Makepeace Thackeray she was proceeding the family tradition that a life of letters. The second fifty percent of Ritchie’s statement did not straight refer to consuming fish: 2

‘He definitely doesn’t practise his precepts, but I suppose the Patron supposed that if you offer a male a fish the is hungry again in an hour. If friend teach the to capture a fish you do him a an excellent turn. but these an extremely elementary values are apt come clash with the leisure of the cultivated classes.’

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

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

Here are extr selected citations in chronological order.

In 1911 a collection of essays dubbed “The common Growth” by M. Loane was published, and an “oft quoted saying” was included. This variation did not usage words such as “feed”, “eat”, or “hungry” to describe the usage of fish, but it walk state the the condition of the fisherman would certainly be enhanced for “all his life”: 6

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

Nevertheless, this does not resolve all possible questions regarding the right technique of help our neighbours. Suppose, to proceed the number of speech, the the man had never taste fish, and also seriously wondered about whether it was a palatable or wholesome kind of nourishment; would certainly it be practicable to induce the to do the exertion necessary to get the arts of fishing, unless you formerly caught and also killed and also cooked a fish because that him, presented it come him, and overcame his reluctance come eat it?

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

In every public health and wellness program the target is not only to do a given service but come teach the separation, personal, instance positive perspectives toward wellness which will advantage him throughout life. The purpose is well proclaimed in an old Indian proverb.

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

In November 1961 the testimony of a missionary called Fred Nelson that had functioned in Taiwan and also mainland China was presented in a Rockford, Illinois newspaper. As soon as discussing international aid, Nelson employed a modern version of the saying and also called that a “Chinese proverb”: 8

Foreign aid—“You provide a poor man a fish and also you feed him for a day. Girlfriend teach him to fish and also you offer him one occupation that will certainly feed him for a lifetime.” (Chinese proverb.)

In October 1962 the “Winnipeg free Press” that Winnipeg, Manitoba provided that the saying was talked during a meeting of the Winnipeg board of directors of ladies by miss out on Anna Speers who was discussing her occupational on the Canadian liberty from Hunger Committee. Speers suggested 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 offer a male a fish, you feeding him because that a day—if you teach him to fish, you feeding him for plenty of days.”

In may 1963 the adage showed up in “The Sunday Gleaner” the Kingston, Jamaica as an epigraph come an post titled “Tackling civilization Hunger”, and the argued provenance was Italian: 10

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

In might 1963 a newspaper in valve Buren, Missouri published the saying, and indicated the it had been talked during a convention organized in Melbourne, Australia: 11

A quotation from one convention speaker was, “Give a man a fish and also you feeding him one meal. Teach him to fish and he have the right to feed self for many meals.”

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

“Since i am speak in global terms i remind girlfriend of a Chinese proverb, ‘give him a fish and he have the right to eat but teach him to fish and he have the right to eat plenty of days."”

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

“One that the hardest things about being a VISTA,” describes Mary, “is the we’re never allowed to perform anything for world directly, not even fill out forms. This isn’t always easy, however it’s the just way.”

There is an old Navajo proverb i m sorry VISTAS must often remind themselves of:

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

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

To pictured Lao-tse and Chairman Mao, can the American world understand the it is better to teach a male to fish 보다 to provide him a fish? Hero’s finding the the American publicly strongly supports technical assistance to transport American know-how argues that lock can.

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

Lao Tsu stated that if you give a hungry male a fish, you feed him for a day, however if you teach him exactly how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

In conclusion, this post presents a picture of the incomplete understanding available. Based on current proof Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie deserves credit for formulating a striking adage that offered fishing together a paradigmatic task allowing self-sufficiency. The saying evolved over time and became an ext memorable by mentioning the capacity to eat for a lifetime. The case that the adage to be an old proverb native China, Italy, India or in other places has only weak assistance at this time.

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Image Notes: photo of anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie through Julia Margaret Cameron indigenous The art Institute that Chicago circa 1870 via Wikimedia Commons. Picture of a fisherman in a watercraft from mydaydream at Pixabay.

(Great many thanks to Michael Becket who inquiry led QI to build this question and perform this exploration. Extr thanks to the researcher Ralph Keyes and his publication “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 to the ADS discussants George Thompson and also Victor Steinbok.)