- it is too late to shut the stable-door after the horse has bolted
- In early use the proverb referred to horse-stealing; has bolted is a modern substitution for the traditional is stolen. Cf. medieval Fr. a tart ferme on l’estable, quant li chevaux est perduz, the stable is shut too late, when the horse is lost.
c 1350 Douce MS 52 no. 22 When the hors is stole, steke [lock] the stabull-dore.
c 1490 in Anglia (1918) XLII. 204 Whan the stede ys stole, than shytte the stable-dore.
1578 LYLY Euphues 1.188 It is to late to shutte the stable doore when the steede is stolen: The Trojans repented to late when their towne was spoiled.
1719 DEFOE Robinson Crusoe II. 92 A dead Bush was cram’d in [the hedge] to stop them [the Spaniards] out for the present, but it was only shutting the Stable-door after the Stead was stolen.
1886 R. L. STEVENSON Kidnapped xiv. A guinea-piece..fell..into the sea... I now saw there must be a hole, and clapped my hand to the place... But this was to lock the stable door after the steed was stolen.
1940 N. MARSH Death of Peer x. The horse having apparently bolted, I shall be glad to assist at the ceremony of closing the stable-door.
1979–80 Verbatim Winter 2 It is too late..to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted.
1998 D. HARSTAD Eleven Days (1999) viii. 71 ‘Mike, maybe we should talk to Rothberg...’ ‘Doesn’t do much good to close the barn door after the horse is out.’
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shut (or bolt) the stable door after the horse has bolted — Brit. try to prevent something undesirable when it is already too late to do so. → stable … English new terms dictionary
shut the stable door when the horse has bolted — If you shut the stable door after the horse has bolted, you try to prevent something bad from happening when it is already too late. Jack decided to insure the contents of his apartment after it was burgled. Now that s shutting the… … English Idioms & idiomatic expressions
shut the stable door after the horse has bolted — I try to avert something bad or unwelcome when it is already too late to do so II try to avoid or prevent something bad or unwelcome when it is already too late to do so … Useful english dictionary
stable-door — see it is too late to shut the stable door after the horse has bolted … Proverbs new dictionary
stable — [[t]ste͟ɪb(ə)l[/t]] ♦♦ stabler, stablest, stables, stabling, stabled 1) ADJ GRADED If something is stable, it is not likely to change or come to an end suddenly. The price of oil should remain stable for the rest of 1992. ...a stable marriage.… … English dictionary
stable — sta|ble1 W3 [ˈsteıbəl] adj [Date: 1200 1300; : Old French; Origin: estable, from Latin stabilis, from stare to stand ] 1.) steady and not likely to move or change ≠ ↑unstable →↑stability ▪ A wide base will make the structure much more stable. in… … Dictionary of contemporary English
stable — 1 adjective 1 steady and not likely to move or change: Be careful, that ladder isn t stable. | a stable marriage | a politically stable country 2 calm, reasonable, and not easy to upset: Norman s a bit neurotic, but his wife s a very stable… … Longman dictionary of contemporary English
horse — see you can take a horse to the water, but you can’t make him drink don’t change horses in mid stream England is the paradise of women, the hell of horses, and the purgatory of servants never look a gift horse in the mouth a good horse cannot be… … Proverbs new dictionary
stable — stable1 adjective (stabler, stablest) 1》 not likely to give way or overturn; firmly fixed. 2》 not likely to change or fail. ↘not deteriorating in health after an injury or operation. ↘emotionally well balanced. 3》 not liable to undergo… … English new terms dictionary
door — see a door must either be shut or open a creaking door hangs longest a golden key can open any door when one door shuts, another opens opportunity never knocks twice at any man’s door a postern door makes a thief … Proverbs new dictionary