phrases, sayings, proverbs and idioms at
Home button Home | Search the website Search | Phrase Dictionary | Honey catches more flies than vinegar

The meaning and origin of the expression: Honey catches more flies than vinegar

Honey catches more flies than vinegar

Other phrases about:

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Honey catches more flies than vinegar'?

This proverbial saying expresses the idea that it is more effective to be polite and ingratiating than to be hostile or demanding.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Honey catches more flies than vinegar'?

You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.This proverb originated in Italy and is found in Giovanni Torriano's A common place of Italian proverbs and proverbial phrases, 1666:

Honey gets more flyes to it, than doth vinegar
[Italian - Il mele catta più mosche, che non fà l'aceto].

The saying is based on the literal truth that flies are attracted to honey, which has been used to bait fly-traps for centuries.

The proverb is now more used in the USA than elsewhere, where it is often thought to be coined by Benjamin Franklin. That may be because Franklin included it in his 1744 publication Poor Richard's Almanack:

Tart Words make no Friends: spoonful of honey will catch more flies than Gallon of Vinegar.

See also: the List of Proverbs.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

Gary Martin is a writer and researcher on the origins of phrases and the creator of the Phrase Finder website. Over the past 26 years more than 700 million of his pages have been downloaded by readers. He is one of the most popular and trusted sources of information on phrases and idioms.

Browse phrases beginning with:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T UV W XYZ Full List