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  1. #1
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    make a spoon or spoil a horn

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to tell me whether I am right with my interpretation of the expression in bold in the following sentence?

    Mr. Osbaldistone is a good honest gentleman; but..he was one would make a spoon or spoil a horn as my father ..used to say.

    make a spoon or spoil a horn = all or nothing

    Thank you for your efforts.

    Regards,

    V.

  2. #2
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    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Re: make a spoon or spoil a horn

    I can tell you that I've never heard either of these in my life. (American speaker here.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. #3
    vil is offline VIP Member
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    Re: make a spoon or spoil a horn

    make a spoon or spoil a horn make a determined effort to achieve something, whatever the cost. With reference to the practice of making spoons out of the horns of cattle or sheep.
    spoon-feed provide (someone) with so much help or information that they do not need to think for themselves (literally, feed someone with a spoon as one might a small child).

    http://swengelsk.se/language/Spooning.htm

    The American Proverb
    Make the spoon or spoil the horn. Apperson (p. 597) gives the earliest example
    for 1820, but the quaintness of the figure, the manufacture of horn spoons

    Regards,


    V.
    Last edited by vil; 25-May-2010 at 16:17.

  4. #4
    Barb_D's Avatar
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    Re: make a spoon or spoil a horn

    Gill, have you heard that one?

    What was the rest of the quoted text? I wonder if it was going to continue that the quaintness makes it obsolete in modern usage?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: make a spoon or spoil a horn

    I've never heard it in the UK.

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