a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From the Sherman Brothers' 1964 song "A Spoonful of Sugar"

Proverb[edit]

a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down

  1. An otherwise unpleasant situation can be pleasant when a pleasant aspect is deliberately introduced.
    • 1999, Eli Yassif, The Hebrew Folktale: History, Genre, Meaning, Indiana University Press, ISBN 0253335833, page 372,
      One is known as the "sweetening parable," that is to say a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. Thus, when the aim is to preach to the people, to guide them along the "bitter," arduous path of upholding burdensome precepts and prohibitions, a tale can lighten the load, make the "medicine" easier "to swallow."
    • 2001, Maureen Reagan, First Father, First Daughter: A Memoir, Little, Brown, ISBN 0316736368, page 319,
      It put some fun into the tedious business of preparing for a presidential debate. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, right?
    • 2004, John Hoover, How to Work for an Idiot: Survive & Thrive... Without Killing Your Boss, Career Press, ISBN 1564147045, page 11,
      If a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, a barrel of laughs can wash down the big pills you might need to swallow.