Spare the rod; spoil the child

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Spare the rod; spoil the child is a proverb. We will examine the meaning of the proverb spare the rod; spoil the child, where the expression may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Spare the rod; spoil the child means that if a parent does not discipline a child, that child will grow up with no morals or manners. In the past, spare the rod; spoil the child referred to literally beating a child with a rod. Today, the phrase is often used to support or discourage physical punishment, but it may also refer to any type of discipline, not just physical discipline. The expression spare the rod; spoil the child has its roots in the Bible, Proverbs 13:24: “Whoever spares the rod hates their children…” The proverb spare the rod; spoil the child was emphasized by Ælfric of Eynsham, an English abbot who lived around 1000. The phrase “Then spare the rod and spill the child” is first found in Samuel Butler’s poem, Hudibras, published in the 1600s.


You know what I mean, “spare the rod, spoil the child,” or the “my way or the highway” mentality. (Henderson Dispatch)

Spare the rod and spoil the child was the mantra parents of the previous generation swore by. (Sun Daily)

I trust my father was acting out that old, tired proverb of “spare the rod and spoil the child,” wanting the watchers to know he practiced what he preached. (Brookings Register)

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