Spare the rod; spoil the child

Spare the rod; spoil the child is a proverb. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that may be a famous quote, an inspirational quote, an epigram, or the topic of a parable. These common sayings are language tools or figures of speech that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself because these common phrases and popular sayings are so well known. Certain phrases may be a metaphor or a quotation; but if it is a proverb, it is often-used and has a figurative meaning. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never; early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise; an apple a day keeps the doctor away; don’t cry over spilt milk; actions speak louder than words; haste makes waste, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth; and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. 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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