Editor: A Person Employed on a Newspaper, Whose Business It Is To Separate the Wheat from the Chaff, and To See that the Chaff Is Printed

Creator: Elbert Hubbard, founder of New York artisan community called Roycrofters, collector and creator of adages

Context: The May 1913 issue of “The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest” published by Elbert Hubbard contained a set of humorous definitions for “editor”: 1

EDITOR: A person employed on a newspaper, whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff, and to see that the chaff is printed.

2. A delicate instrument for observing the development and flowering of the deadly mediocre and encouraging its growth

3. A seraphic embryon; a smooth bore; a bit of sandpaper applied to all forms of originality by the publisher-proprietor; an emictory.

A shorter version of the first definition evolved over time. The following appeared in a Meyersdale, Pennsylvania newspaper in 1922 without attribution: 2

Editor—One whose business it is to separate the wheat from the chaff and then print the chaff.

Notes:

  1. 1913 May, The Philistine: A Periodical of Protest, Volume 36, Number 6, (Definition of Editor), Quote Page 192, Elbert Hubbard: The Society of the Philistines, East Aurora, New York. (Google Books Full View) link
  2. 1922 February 23, Meyersdale Republican, The Gloom Chaser, Quote Page 3, Column 2, Meyersdale, Pennsylvania. (Newspapers_com)