Coined by Stephen Gosson in 1579 in the book Ephemerides of Phialo: Deuided Into Three Bookes p62v
make a silk purse of a sow's ear
- (idiomatic) To produce something refined, admirable, or valuable from something which is unrefined, unpleasant, or of little or no value.
- 1884, Charlotte M. Yonge, The Armourer's Prentices, ch. 22:
- "He always was an unmannerly cub," said Master Headley, as he read the letter. "Well, I've done my best to make a silk purse of a sow's ear!"
- 1997, Joanna Biddolph, "Mandelson has become PR’s new role model," PRWeek (UK), 23 May (retrieved 16 Dec. 2009):
- PR people can make a silk purse of a sow's ear.
- 2001, Penny Jackson, "House & Home: On your marks. Get set. Sell!" Independent (UK), 6 Jan. (retrieved 16 Dec. 2009):
- A smart development can make a silk purse of a sow's ear, and the effect on older properties can be quite dramatic.