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– Usually appearing in an adverse contexts, the phrase dry behind the ears method experienced, mature.– whereas the phrase wet behind the ears way inexperienced, immature.

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According to the Oxford English Dictionary (3rd edition, 2015):– The previous phrase is a translation indigenous German (noch nicht) trocken hinter den Ohren, attested in 1712 and definition (not yet) dry behind the ears.– The last phrase is a translation indigenous German (noch) nass hinter den Ohren, attested in 1642 and an interpretation (still) wet behind the ears. The different (noch) feucht hinter den Ohren, (still) wet behind the ears, is attested in 1842.– these German phrases apparently suggest to the idea the the area behind the ear is the last part of a newborn’s human body to become dry ~ birth.

The faster instances that i have discovered of dry behind the ears and also of wet behind the ears are from texts translated from German:


This phrase shows up in thing 33 of Interesting travels in America. Translated from the German the Bülow1. For The port Folio, released in The harbor Folio Enlarged. By Oliver Oldschool, Esq. (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) of Saturday 21st august 1802:

Young Americans room for the many part, excessively stunner company, the fine educated and travelled people excepted. The French speak to such inexperienced uneducated boys, eco-friendly creoles, (des créoles verts,) together in German we normally say of such a person, “he is not however dry behind the ears.”

1 ~ above Saturday sixth March 1802, The harbor Folio had explained that the author was

a German gentleman, through the name of Bülow, formerly an officer in the Prussian service, that in the month of July, 1795, embarked at this location (Hamburg) because that the joined States, where he had actually conceived the job of make a long-term settlement, and who, if we are rightly informed, is either already returned, or is intended every moment to arrive, being established to live in his very own country; persuaded by his own experience, the Germany is fairly as an excellent as Pennsylvania.


This phrase appears as wet behind his ears in chapter 6 the The two Students. Indigenous Horn’s Bohemian2 Village Tales. Interpreted from the German for The Atlas, by J. C. Clegg, released in The Boston Semi-Weekly Atlas (Boston, Massachusetts) that Wednesday 26th in march 1851—Michael Kirchel, a clerk, wants to get married Milada, yet she is in love with Jacob Pischta, a student; during a reception, Kirchel is confronting his rival:

This was too much. Jacob clenched his fists, and would have actually sprung in ~ his devil like a wild man, had actually not Johann, attractive by the noise, gone into at the very instant, and also held the back.“Be still, Jacob?” said he, “let the Dutch3 Michael go—and you, Herr Kirchel,” ongoing he, transforming to the latter, “you are right here only as a guest, and also if you wont be still you deserve to leave! us students give the merenda, and as Jacob is a student, the has more right right here than you! Come Jacob!”He took his friend’s arm, and also led that away, if Kirchel remained behind, pale with rage, and making such a noise the his companions shut the door to prevent it gift heard in the street.“Such a Bohemian zopak4 dares to tell me that? such a louse student, who is still wet behind his ears, thinks since he is obtained in the castle, that is some great person! permit me alone, ns will offer him a box on the ear that will make him remember that is Michael.”

2 Bohemia then belonged to the Habsburgs, the ruling household of Austria; the is now a region forming the western part of the Czech Republic.3 Here, Dutch is provided in the feeling of German—cf. origin that ‘double Dutch’ and also ‘High Dutch’ (‘gibberish’) and also origin that ‘Dutch treat’ and ‘to go Dutch’.4 The colloquial Austrian-German native Zopak was a pejorative name for the Czechs, derived from Czech copak, an interpretation what?.—Specific language call phenomena in the Habsburg Empire and their feasible utilization for to teach Czech together a foreign language in Austria, through Stefan Michael Newerkla, published in Studie z aplikované lingvistiky – researches in used Linguistics (Charles college in Prague, Faculty the Arts, Czech Republic – 2014)>


The Revue des traditions populaires (Société des legacies populaires au Musée d’ethnographie du Trocadéro – Paris, France, march 1912), videotaped the French expression mouillé derrière les oreilles, wet behind the ears, supplied in Wallonia, the mostly French-speaking southern component of Belgium.

In July 1907, the Revue des heritages populaires had recorded the identified French phrase jaune derrière les oreilles, yellow behind the ears, supplied in Hainaut, a province of southern Belgium. The was defined as referring to the facts that young bird “have the base of the beak close to the ears” (“ont la base du bec près des oreilles”) and that your beak is yellow.


The following, native the Coventry night Telegraph (Coventry, Warwickshire, England) of Wednesday 12th June 1974, puns ~ above the phrase wet behind the ears:

In at the deep end. That’s two-year-old Graham Jones, that 14, Lime Tree Avenue, Rugby.

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WET BEHIND THE EARS . . .You’re never ever too young come learn—as one increasing variety of Rugby toddlers are proving.More and an ext water babies room taking the plunge in ~ Rugby Sports-Centre swim pool—many the them before they can also walk.