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A proposal that would take effect as soon as next March is the most ambitious effort yet by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s administration to combat rising obesity.
McDonald’s farmyard ads draw fire
The proof of the puddingMeaning
To fully test something you need to experience it yourself.
'The proof of the pudding' is just shorthand for 'the proof of the pudding is in the eating'. That makes sense at least, whereas the shortened version really doesn't mean anything. Nor does the often-quoted incorrect variation 'the proof is in the pudding'. The continued use of that meaningless version is no doubt bolstered by the fact that the correct version isn't that easy to understand.
The meaning become clear when you know that 'proof' here means 'test'. The more common meaning of proof in our day and age is 'the evidence that demonstrates a truth' - as in a mathematical or legal proof. The verb form meaning 'to test' is less often used these days, although it does survive in several commonly used phrases: 'the exception that proves the rule', 'proof-read', 'proving-ground', etc. Clearly, the distinction between these two forms of the word was originally quite slight and the proof in a 'showing to be true' sense is merely the successful outcome of a test of whether a proposition is correct or not.
'The proof of the pudding is in the eating' is a very old proverb. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations dates it back to the early 14th century, albeit without offering any supporting evidence. The phrase is widely attributed to Cervantes in The History of Don Quixote. This appears to be by virtue of an early 18th century translation by Peter Motteux, which has been criticised by later scholars as 'a loose paraphrase' and 'Franco-Cockney'. Crucially the Spanish word for pudding - 'budín', doesn't appear in the original Spanish text.
The earliest printed example of the proverb that I can find is in William Camden's Remaines of a Greater Worke Concerning Britaine, 1605:
"All the proof of a pudding is in the eating."It is worth remembering that, as the phrase is quite old, the pudding wouldn't have been a sticky toffee pudding from the sweet trolley, but a potentially fatal savoury dish. In Camden's listing of proverbs he also includes "If you eat a pudding at home, the dog may have the skin", which suggests that the pudding he had in mind was some form of sausage. THE OED describes the mediaeval pudding as 'the stomach or one of the entrails of a pig, sheep, or other animal, stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, suet, oatmeal, seasoning, etc., and boiled'. Those of you who have ventured north of the border on Burns Night will recognize this as a fair description of a haggis - "the great chieftain o' the pudding-race", as Burns called it in the poem Address to a Haggis, 1786. Mediaeval peasants, faced with a boiled up farmyard massacre, might have thought a taste test to have been a wise choice.
See also: the List of Proverbs.
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Snobbish; supercilious; stuck-up.
Judging by the queries at my website's Bulletin Board, the British expression 'toffee-nosed' isn't familiar to everyone in the English-speaking world. Whenever it crops up in a BBC drama that is shown in the USA I get mail about it. For those not familiar with it, the meaning is somewhat similar to 'posh'.
The origin of 'toffee-nosed' has nothing to do with the sugary, brown sweet, but derives from 'toff', which was the slang term given by the lower-classes in Victorian England to stylishly-dressed upper-class gentlemen. It was recorded by Henry Mayhew in London Labour and the London Poor, 1851:
If it's a lady and gentleman, then we cries, 'A toff and a doll!'It is widely agreed amongst etymologists that 'toff' was a corruption of 'tuft', which has a clear aristocratic pedigree, being the ornamental tassel on an academic cap. Specifically, a tuft was the gold tassel originally worn on academic caps at Oxford University by the sons of those peers who had a vote in the House of Lords. They were worn on the celebratory 'Gaudy Days', i.e. the university's twice-yearly feast days (which sound a good deal more fun than 'Dress-down Fridays'). The wearers of the prestigious tufts became known as tufts themselves, even having their own sycophantic crowd of wannabees, known as the 'tufthunters'.
If ever there was a tuft, it was the well-connected student Archibald Philip Primrose, the fifth Earl of Rosebery, first Earl of Midlothian and later British Prime Minister. In March 1894, The Westmoreland Gazette reported that:
Lord Rosebery was one of the last undergraduates of Christ Church who wore the gold tassel, known by the name of 'tuft', which was the distinguishing mark of noblemen and the sons of noblemen.Tufts were variously called tofts, tuffs and, by 1851 at least, toffs. They were already a well-established breed before 'toffee-nosed' began to be used. That didn't emerge until the early 20th century, as in this definition from Fraser and Gibbons' Soldier and Sailor Words, 1925:
Toffee-nosed, stuck up.'Stuck-up' had emerged a century or so earlier, and is found in Charles Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, 1839:
'He's a nasty stuck-up monkey, that's what I consider him,' said Mrs. Squeers.The 'nosed' part of 'toffee-nosed' appears to derive from the allusion to the haughty toffs, who stuck their noses in the air when faced with the hoi-polloi.
See also: POSH.