. From being an almost obligatory caption to photographs of 'the scene of the crime', usually murder, it came to be applied to trivialities, e.g. one's room in hotel or boarding-house, and thus, by its frequency, became, c. 1925, a c.p.; my own memory of it hardly antecedes the late 1920s.
'Much earlier in US-probably since the beginning of newspaper photography' (J.W.C., 1977). 'There are also many literary uses, as in pirate tales where maps are used, as in E.A. Poe, The Gold Bug, 1843, and R.L. Stevenson, Treasure Island, 1883' (A.B., 1979).
[ is 'a ridiculous malformation of the Latin tag [Experientia docet, 'Experience teaches'-'We learn by experience']. I first heard it about 1912' (Leechman, 1969). This and the rather better-known experience does it didn't quite 'make the grade'. I've heard neither form since c. 1960.
'Mrs Micawber quotes her father as saying “Experientia does it”' (J.W.C.), the ref. being to Dickens's David Copperfield, 1849-50.]
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Publication information: Book title: A Dictionary of Catch Phrases: British and American, from the Sixteenth Century to the Present Day. Contributors: Paul Beale - Editor, Eric Partridge - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1993. Page number: 360.
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