Post by Bill Gill
I am in an internet discussion group and one of the members has
claimed that the phrase "Born with a silver spoon in his mouth"
came about because rich people used to put a silver spoon in a
babies mouth to protect him/her from plagues and other diseases.
I have searched the web, not extensively, but I couldn't find anything
relevant. I also checked Snopes and they don't have anything.
Does anybody have anything to debunk the claim? I figure that it
won't help, but at least I will be able to say I tried.
Here is a little info from
(on page 2)
"'Born With a Silver Spoon in Your Mouth'
This is a tricky one. Silver is known to have antimicrobial properties
that can ward off bacteria and viruses. But whether the old adage "born
with a silver spoon in your mouth" is related to this scientific fact is
In medieval tradition, wealthy godparents gave their grandchildren
silver spoons as gifts during at their christening ceremonies. Because
only the rich could afford such items, silver spoons became a symbol of
"The elite class already had silver," said Albert Jack, historian and
author of "Red Herrings and White Elephants: The Origins of the Phrases
We Use Everyday." Since the upper class of society had silver among
their troves of treasures, those born into that class were seen as "born
with a silver spoon in their mouths."
The phrase has appeared in several pieces of literature, including
Cervantes' "Don Quixote." It made its first appearance in American
language in the "Adams Family Correspondence," a collection of letters
exchanged between John and Abigail Adams.
The connection to colds and flu or just being sick in general is
unclear. Some definitions of the phrase state that because children fed
with silver spoons were observed to get sick less often as opposed to
the poor class, "born with a silver spoon in your mouth" has a medical
Phrase experts are skeptical of this assertion.
"This means 'born into a wealthy family,'" McFedries said. "So it
doesn't have anything to do with colds, flu or illness." "
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