Where does the saying Throw the Baby Out with Bathwater come from?

Throwing the baby out with the Bathwater comes means to get rid of the good parts as well as the bad parts of something when you are trying to improve it. This idiom derives from a German proverb, das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten. The earliest record of this phrase is in 1512, in Narrenbeschwörung (Appeal to Fools) by Thomas Murner; and this book includes a woodcut illustration showing a woman tossing a baby out with waste water. It is a common catchphrase in German. During the 1500s, most people bathed once a year. Even when they did bathe, the entire family used the same tub of water. The man of the house bathed first, followed by other males, then females, and lastly the babies. You can imagine how thick and cloudy the water became by that time, so the infants’ mothers had to take care not to throw them out with the bathwater when they emptied the tub.


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