Josiah Stamp? Vivian F. Rausch? David Dodge? Hugh Overman? Ted Healy? Anonymous?
Dear Quote Investigator: Life impressions differ dramatically between people with sunny dispositions versus morose temperaments. This point is cleverly illustrated via the disparate reactions elicited by a container partially filled with liquid:
The optimist says the container is half full.
The pessimist says the container is half empty.
Variants of this saying refer to different containers, e.g., a bottle, a glass, and a gas tank. Josiah Stamp who was the director of the Bank of England has received credit for this expression, but I have not seen a solid citation. Would you please explore the provenance of this proverbial saying?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match found by QI appeared in “The Evening Sun” of Baltimore, Maryland in April 1929. The statement occurred in a filler item without attribution. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1929 April 9, The Evening Sun, (Filler item), Quote Page 1, Column 2, Baltimore, Maryland. (Newspapers_com)
If he says his gas tank is half-full he’s an optimist. If he says it’s half-empty he’s a pessimist.
Based on current evidence the originator remains anonymous.
Josiah Stamp helped to popularize this witty comparison by using it during a speech he gave in 1935, but the saying was already in circulation.
Below are selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1929 April 9, The Evening Sun, (Filler item), Quote Page 1, Column 2, Baltimore, Maryland. (Newspapers_com)|