little pitchers have big ears

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

An allusion to the ear-shaped handles common on pitchers used for serving liquids.

Proverb[edit]

little pitchers have big ears

  1. Small children often overhear more of what is said than adults realize or desire.
    • 1844, Charlotte M. Yonge, Abbeychurch, ch. 2:
      Seeing me listening to something she was saying to Mamma, she turned round upon me with that odious proverb, "Little pitchers have long ears."
    • 1939, "Bedtime Bedlam," Time, 17 Apr.:
      A caution to U. S. parents, but a joy to radio merchandising, is the dread truth that little pitchers have big ears.
    • 2002, Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, ISBN 9780743455961, p. 185:
      I suppose he might say pushed or went woowoo, but took a shit is, I fear, very much in the ballpark (little pitchers have big ears, after all).

Usage notes[edit]

  • Often used when adults are conversing in the presence of small children, as a coded reminder to be careful about what one says.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

See also[edit]