Can't Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear - Idiom of the Week

Can't Make a Silk Purse Out of a Sow's Ear - Idiom of the Week

We’ve always heard that “you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” but CEO Traci Snowden is learning otherwise in Wilson, Arkansas attending an AgTech event attracting international investors and FDI. (Click here to learn more about Davos on the Delta)

This company thinks otherwise: “It’s our job to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.”

So, what does that actually mean? And can you, in fact, make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? Well, we can confidently answer one of these questions for you.

Meaning of the Idiom

This 16th century, old-fashioned idiom simply means that you cannot create a high-quality product (the silk purse) with low-quality materials (the sow’s ear). Makes sense, right?

Idiom Origin

It’s no surprise that Traci heard this in Arkansas, because this is an idiom that you are most likely to hear in the South! Other states you might hear this include Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Though there are many different people and sources cited as the origin of this idiom, the oldest one that we could find was in the book The Ephemerides of Phialo: Deuided Into Three Bookes by Stephen Gosson in 1579. How’s THAT for a piece of trivia!

But can you actually make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? That’s up for interpretation. When we find out, we’ll let you know. (: