Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Meaning of “Keep the Wolf from the Door” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

Meaning of “Keep the Wolf from the Door” phrase of Idiom, definition and synonyms use in sentence.

Keep the Wolf from the Door

This phrase indicates mankind’s heartfelt wish that the specter of hunger and the haunting fear of the consequences of debt must be banished from the very threshold of their lives.

One of the earliest poetical references is in Harding’s Chronicle (1470):

Endow hym now with noble sapience,

By which he may the wolf were (that is, beat or drive away) from the gate.

In the days of long ago, when wolves infested the forests and lanes of Old England, our present phrase must have had much more than the metaphorical significance which it has to-day; for then every man had need to be on guard—ever alert—to protect himself and his family against the depredations of this voracious creature. From time immemorial the wolf has been the bane of mankind, because of its ravenous disposition. “Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil”.

Merely to see a wolf was at one time superstitiously regarded as the cause of dumbness. This may have been actually true of persons who were so horrified at the thought of danger as to be struck speechless. Hence, in Scott’s Quentin Durward occurs the sentence: “Our young companion has seen a wolf and has lost his tongue in consequence.”

To cry “Wolf!” therefore, must have been to send tenor through a neighborhood; for, even at night, when all doors and windows were securely fastened, it must have made a great difference to a family’s comfort to know that no wolf was scratching at the door.

Notwithstanding the extermination of this animal from Britain for many centuries, so ingrained in the mind has the ancient fear and habit become that men still use the phrase.


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