Tag Archives: Ronald Knox

Baby: An Alimentary Canal with a Loud Voice at One End and No Responsibility at the Other

Elizabeth I. Adamson? Ronald Knox? Ronald Reagan? Anonymous?

Dear Quote Investigator: There is a definition that refers to the two ends of a baby. One end consists of a loud voice or a big appetite, and the other end is given a comical description. Are you familiar with this joke? Would you please research its origin?

Quote Investigator: The earliest instance located by QI appeared in the July 1937 issue of “The Reader’s Digest”. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1

BABY: An alimentary canal with a loud voice at one end and no responsibility at the other.—Elizabeth I. Adamson

QI does not have any biographical information for Adamson, but based on current evidence she was the most likely creator of this quip. In 1965 future president Ronald Reagan extended the metaphorical framework to construct a barb aimed at government.

Details are given below together with selected citations in chronological order. Continue reading

Notes:

  1. 1937 July, Reader’s Digest, Volume 31, Patter, Quote Page 101, Reader’s Digest Association, Pleasantville, New York. (Verified using hardcopy)