Why do we say "Promises are like pie crust, they are made to be broken.

Well-Known Expressions

Promises are like pie crust, they are made to be broken

Meaning:

Promises should not be trusted.

Background:

The first recorded use of this expression is by Ridens on Aug 16, 1681:

"He makes no more of breaking Acts of Parliaments, than if they were like Promises and Pie-crust, made to be broken."

The internet has little in the way of information on the life of Heraclitus Ridens but a glance at his writings shows him to have been an essayist, poet and satirist. The chances are that he was named for the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus.


Irish writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, however, popularized the expression in his 1738 book, Polite Conversation, and thus is often attributed with being the author of it:

Lady Smart: Ay, thou has a head and so has a pin. But my lord, all the town has it that Miss Caper is to be married to Sir Peter Giball; one thing is certain that she hath promis'd to have him.

Lord Sparkish: Why, Madam, you know promises are either broken or kept.

Lady A: I beg your pardon, my Lords, promises and pie-crust are made to be broken.

Polite Conversation consists of three satirical dialogues presented as a guide to "Genteel and Ingenious Conversation, According to the Most Polite Mode and Method Now Used at Court, and in the Best Companies of England". Some critics view the dialogues as transcripts of actual speech (albeit presumably somewhat honed in order to flow as complete dialogues).

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Dark Flood Rises
    The Dark Flood Rises
    by Margaret Drabble
    Margaret Drabble, the award-winning novelist and literary critic who is approaching eighty and ...
  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

A library is a temple unabridged with priceless treasure...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -