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

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

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

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

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

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

The passage above noted a theoretical match, but it go not cite the vivid job of fishing as an illustrative and also archetypal endeavor. In 1885 a statement that did describe fishing and partially matched the contemporary adage showed up in the novel “Mrs. Dymond” by the famous novelist anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie. As the daughter the the significant writer william Makepeace Thackeray she was continuing the household tradition the a life that letters. The second half of Ritchie’s statement walk not directly refer to consuming fish: 2

‘He definitely doesn’t practise his precepts, but I expect the Patron intended that if you offer a male a fish the is hungry again in an hour. If you teach him to catch a fish you execute him a an excellent turn. but these an extremely elementary ethics are apt come clash with the recreation of the grew classes.’

The over passage native Ritchie achieved wide dissemination since the novel to be serialized in the leading periodicals “Macmillan’s Magazine” of London 3 and “Littell’s living Age” of Boston, Massachusetts in 1885. 4 This important citation in “Mrs. Dymond” was discussed by peak researcher Ralph Keyes in the reference work-related “The Quote Verifier”. 5

The adage ongoing to evolve because that decades. In 1911 an instance used the adhering to phrase in the second half: “he will be richer every his life”. Finally, in 1961 an instance employed the phrase “that will certainly feed him for a lifetime” i beg your pardon was comparable to contemporary versions.

Here are added selected citations in chronological order.

In 1911 a arsenal of essays called “The common Growth” by M. Loane was published, and an “oft quoted saying” was included. This version did not use words such as “feed”, “eat”, or “hungry” to refer to the usage of fish, but it walk state the the standing of the fisherman would be boosted for “all his life”: 6

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

Nevertheless, this go not settle all possible questions as to the right technique of helping our neighbours. Suppose, to continue the number of speech, that the man had never tasted fish, and also seriously questioned whether it to be a palatable or wholesome type of nourishment; would it it is in practicable come induce him to make the exertion necessary to acquire the art of fishing, uneven you previously caught and also killed and cooked a fish for him, gift it come him, and overcame his reluctance to eat it?

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

In every public health program the target is not just to do a given organization but to teach the individual positive attitudes toward wellness which will benefit him throughout life. The objective is well stated in an old Indian proverb.

“If you provide a male a fish, he will certainly be hungry tomorrow. If you 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 mainland China to be presented in a Rockford, Illinois newspaper. Once discussing foreign aid, Nelson to work a modern-day version that the saying and also called that a “Chinese proverb”: 8

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

In October 1962 the “Winnipeg free Press” that Winnipeg, Manitoba provided that the speak was talked during a conference of the Winnipeg council of females by miss out on Anna Speers who was stating her work on the Canadian flexibility from Hunger Committee. Speers argued a Chinese origin for the expression: 9

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

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

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

In may 1963 a newspaper in van Buren, Missouri published the saying, and also indicated that it had actually been talked during a convention organized in Melbourne, Australia: 11

A quotation native one convention speaker was, “Give a male a fish and also you feed him one meal. Teach him to fish and also he deserve to feed self for countless meals.”

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

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

In 1970 the publication “VISTA: difficulty to Poverty” by Susan Whittlesey to be published. VISTA referred to a national business organization whose name was acronymic: volunteers In organization To America. The author argued that the saying was “an old Navajo proverb”: 13

“One of the hardest things around being a VISTA,” defines Mary, “is the we’re never enabled to do anything for people directly, not even fill the end forms. This isn’t always easy, however it’s the just way.”

There is one old Navajo proverb which VISTAS must often remind themselves of:

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

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

To paraphrase Lao-tse and also Chairman Mao, can the American people understand the it is much better to teach a guy to fish 보다 to give him a fish? Hero’s finding the the American public strongly supports technical aid to deliver American know-how argues that castle can.

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

Lao Tsu claimed that if you give a hungry male a fish, you feeding him because that a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

In conclusion, this post presents a picture of the incomplete knowledge available. Based upon current evidence Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie deserves credit transaction for formulating a striking adage that used fishing as a paradigmatic task permitting self-sufficiency. The saying advanced over time and became more memorable by mentioning the ability to eat because that a lifetime. The claim that the adage was an old proverb native China, Italy, India or in other places has just weak support at this time.

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Image Notes: picture of ann Isabella Thackeray Ritchie by Julia Margaret Cameron native The art Institute that Chicago circa 1870 via Wikimedia Commons. Picture of a fisherman in a boat from mydaydream in ~ Pixabay.

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