Talk:Make a mountain out of a molehill

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2007-11-6 Automated pywikipediabot message[edit]

--CopyToWiktionaryBot 14:42, 6 November 2007 (UTC)


I have removed the deletion tag, so the article not be deleted. This stub should remain in the event that someone comes along and expands it some day, which is likely. Hellno2 (talk) 15:04, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm working on it! Bearian (talk) 00:46, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
By all means, please continue to work on it. But please read your references before you cite them. Stop taking things out of context, citing papers simply because they happen to use the phrase. What you've been doing to this article is about as appropriate as if I were to say that "making a mountain out of a molehill" is a phrase about bacteriology because I found that it was used once in a paper about spirochaetes. Bueller 007 (talk) 09:40, 29 January 2010 (UTC)


The relevance of the Horace quote in the article is not given. The meaning for Horace's phrase does not seem to match the meaning of "make a mountain out of a molehill". No evidence is provided that this is an actual precursor of the phrase. At best it appears that it was included in this article merely because it contains the word "mountain" and mentions a species of small mammal. The OED and another source just added to the article by another poster both cite the first written usage of the term to J. Foxe in 1570: "To much amplifying thinges yt be but small, makyng mountaines of Molehils." I do not believe that the Horace quote is relevant to this article, and I think it should be deleted. Bueller 007 (talk) 08:53, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

I have come on this article by chance while researching Aesop's fable of The Mountain in Labour, about which I mean to write an article soon. From one point of view this has a different meaning to 'making a mountain out of a molehill' (or making much ado about nothing). Aesop's fable in an early Latin version by Phaedrus is applied to menaces that amount to nothing. Horace applies it to bombast and a Mediaeval Latin poem (written in England) uses it when criticizing ineffectual democratic processes. The phrase seems to have become proverbial by then. Its relevance to the 16th century idiom hangs on what Udall had in mind when he coined it. The link might well be Caxton's translation of Aesop's fable. He applies it to menaces, as had Phaedrus, but goes on to make the mountain 'a hylle whiche beganne to tremble and shake by cause of the molle whiche delved it' ( So if Caxton can make a molehill out of a mountain when relating the fable, Udall might equally have had the fable in mind when pairing it with another proverbial phrase - making an elephant out of a flea.
If no one has rewritten the article by the time I have written mine, I'd like to come back and perhaps reconsider some of the deleted material that others thought relevant. But I can understand why the article has previously been recommended for deletion. Two other articles on idiomatic usage have been merged into the articles dealing with the fables from which they took their origin - the Lion's Share and Belling the cat. In the debate around this, WP policy of not making an article out of what properly belongs in Wiktionary is cited. I would be inclined to merge the first section of this article here into mine on the mountain in labour, if there is consensus that it belongs there by reason of the link through Udall. Udall, by the way, is earlier than Foxe. Mzilikazi1939 (talk) 18:50, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

Having now written the article mentioned above, I realise that intruding this idiom into it would be inappropriate. I have therefore rewritten the article here, dividing it into a section on the psychological behaviour indicated by the idiom and another section on its origin. Mention of Caxton's bringing mountain and molehill together (he calls the molehill a mountain later in the fable) comes much more naturally into this. Bueller 007 is right, however; the allusion to the fable in Horace is not relevant, since he was there talking about poetic practice rather than linguistic behaviour. Mzilikazi1939 (talk) 23:49, 2 February 2011 (UTC)