June 30, 2006

throw out the baby with the bath water

Posted in Idioms at 10:16 am by Feng

throw out the baby with the bath water — to lose the good parts when you get rid of the bad parts of something [freedict]

This is a useful phrase to use in a debate or argument. On the second day of the workshop, there was a panel discussion on the topic of “Electronic Voting”. Experts in the field were gathered to scrutinize this problem from different angles. One of them threw out a radical opinion: E-voting is useless and it’s completely a waste of time and money. He then substantiated his view by enumerating problems existent in all the proposed voting protocols. A cryptographer didn’t agree with him and said: “You cannot throw out the baby with the bath water.”



  1. Cilly said,

    Craig Ferguson explained the origin of this phrase. In the ‘olden days’, one large bath was drawn for the entire family. First the working dad would bathe, then mom, then kids oldest to youngest. By the time the baby was bathed, the bath water would be so dark you couldn’t see the baby! Had to make sure all the kids were accounted for before throwing out the dirty water.

  2. Feng said,

    Thanks for the very interesting explanation.

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