Everybody’s business is nobody’s business.
— Bartlett Jere Whiting in Modern Proverbs and Proverbial Sayings, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1989), p. 205. Citing Alexander Martin Sullivan in The Last Serjeant: The Memoirs of Serjeant A.M. Sullivan, p. 161. Also available in Bartlett Jere Whiting’s Early American Proverbs and Proverbial Phrases, p. 51.
Phrase opened to at random last night, and marked with green tab.
For further expansion:
B377 Everybody’s Business is nobody’s business.
- ?1629 Hutchinson Papers 1.33: That which is common to all is proper to none.
- 1735: South Carolina Gazette 215-6: We have… set up Reformers, (that is of ourselves) or Meddler’s of Nobody’s business, or to speak plainer, of every body’s: For we have set that refin’d Maxim of Nobody’s means Every body.
- 1755: Johnson Papers 1.588
- 1757: Washington Writings 2.43: With us it is every body’s business, and no one’s, to supply.
- 1762: FBrinley in Saltonstall Papers 1.437: What was Every mans business, was no body’s, soe there it rested.
- 1789: Belknap Papers 3.453: What is every body’s, you know, is no body’s, &c.
- 1791: S.P.L. Thoughts 167.
- 1797: NAmes in DHR 8(1897) 54.
- 1806: Jotham Waterman Two Better Than One (Boston, 1806) 5.
- 1810: Dwigh Journey 9.
- 1828: Yankee 38. Oxford 231; TW (49)5. See *E78*.