Sticks and Stones (nursery rhyme)

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"Sticks and Stones" is an English language children's rhyme. It persuades the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, to refrain from physical retaliation, and to remain calm and good-natured. It is reported[1] to have appeared in The Christian Recorder of March 1862, a publication of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, where it is presented as an "old adage" in this form:

Sticks and stones will break my bones
But words will never harm me.

The phrase also appeared in 1872, where it is presented as advice in Tappy's Chicks: and Other Links Between Nature and Human Nature, by Mrs. George Cupples.[2] The version used in that work runs:

Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never hurt me.

This sentiment is reflected in/reflects the common law of civil assault, which holds that mere name-calling does not give rise to a cause of action, while putting someone in fear of physical violence does.[citation needed]


Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Gary Martin. "The Phrase Finder". Retrieved September 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ Cupples, Mrs. George [Ann Jane Dunn Douglas] (1872). Tappy's Chicks: And Other Links Between Nature and Human Nature (1872). London: Strahan & Co. p. 78.