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throw dirt enough, and some will stick



This proverb dates from c1650, and was popularised by Voltaire [François-Marie Arouet] in the 18th century.


throw dirt enough, and some will stick

  1. If enough allegations are made about someone or something, then even if they are all untrue, people's opinion of the person or thing will be diminished.
    • 1759, John Wesley, letter to John Downes, Rector of St. Michael's, Wood Street, read at Wesley Center Online at [1] on 14 Oct 06.
      I hope...that you are ignorant of the whole affair, and are so bold only because you are blind...And blind enough; so that you blunder on through thick and thin, bespattering all that come in your way, according to the old, laudable maxim, 'Throw dirt enough, and some will stick.'
    • 1857, Thomas Hughes, Tom Brown's Schooldays, read at on 14 Oct 06,
      But whatever harm a spiteful tongue could do them, he took care should be done. Only throw dirt enough, and some will stick.
    • 1864, John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, Penguin Classics (1994), p. 10,
      Archbishop Whately used to say ‘Throw dirt enough, and some will stick;' well, will stick, but not, will stain. I think he used to mean ‘stain,' and I do not agree with him.