"The large print giveth and the small print taketh away” (or, “The large print gives and the small print takes away") is a saying frequently attributed to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979), who was credited with the saying in 1957, and to singer-songwriter Tom Waits, who used the line in a 1976 song. Neither Sheen nor Waits coined the saying.
“The big print gives and the little print takes away” has been cited in print since at least 1941. The saying has been frequently applied to insurance contracts, where the small print lists many exclusions to coverage. The radio show Amos ‘n’ Andy (1928-1955) popularized the saying, but it’s not known on what broadcast the saying was used.
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and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”
Wikipedia: Amos ‘n’ Andy
Amos ‘n’ Andy is a situation comedy based on stock sketch comedy characters but set in the African-American community. It was very popular in the United States from the 1920s through the 1950s on both radio and television.
Amos and Andy began as one of the first radio comedy series, written and voiced by Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll and originating from station WMAQ in Chicago. After the program was first broadcast in 1928, it grew to become a huge influence on radio series that followed. The show ran as a nightly radio serial from 1928 until 1943, as a weekly situation comedy from 1943 until 1955, and as a nightly disc-jockey program from 1954 until 1960. A television adaptation ran on CBS-TV from 1951 until 1953, and continued in syndicated reruns from 1954 until 1966.
Wikiquote: Tom Waits
Thomas Alan Waits (born 7 December 1949) American composer, singer, songwriter, musician and actor.
The large print giveth and the small print taketh away.
“Step Right Up”, Small Change (1976)
2 March 1941, Baltimore (MD) Sun, “Legislators Studying 60 Motor Vehicle Bills” by J. Hugh Taylor, pg. M11:
The bill regulating time purchases of cars makes certain provisions as to the type used by finance companies in printing their contract forms which would take the sting out of the popular saying, “The big print gives and the little print takes away.”
Amos ‘n’ Andy said it neatly when they observed: “The big print giveth; the small print taketh away.”
Escrow and land-title procedure; an authoritative manual relating to transfers of property (both real and personal) and to correlate them with the actual escrow practice, setting forth the rule, reason for the rule, authority for the rule. Fully annotated with latest decisions and code references, latest approved forms.
By Walter Stuart Home
Los Angeles, CA: O.W. Smith
The common phrase in regard to policies of insurance of every kind is that “the big print gives and the small print taketh away.”
Business Education World
Some good slogans are: “Too Much Month at the End of Money,” “A Budget Is a Means to an End,” “Are Your Mistakes Hanging in Your Closet,” “Think Before You Buy,” “What the Big Print Gives You, the Little Print Takes Away,”...
22 January 1952, Newark (OH) Advocate, “Increase Income By Stretching Spending Value,” pg. 7, col. 4:
Read contracts before you sign them. It is said that what the big print gives you, the little print takes away. This may apply to insurance policies, mortgages and installment contracts.
1 February 1953, Lima (OH) News, pg. 11B, col. 7 ad:
Some armchair sage made this comment about insurance: “The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away.”
To a surprising extent, this remark is true. The large print on the first page of a policy does set forth the coverages, the amounts, and the cost. The small print that follows brings out the exclusions, the modifications, the exact responsibilities of the company and the Assured.
(Mel Butterfield insurance—ed.)
13 November 1955, Long Beach (CA) Independent-Press-Telegram, Southland Magaine, pg. 25, col. 2:
Amos and Andy once said:
“The big print giveth. The small print taketh away.”
24 February 1957, Oregonian (Portland, OR), ‘The Wit Parade” by E. E. Kenyon, The American Weekly, pg. 10, col. 3:
“Remember,” warned the minister to his friend who was about to sign a TV contract, “the big print giveth and the small print taketh away.”
Google News Archive
6 May 1957, Toledo (OH) Blade, Mike Connolly column from Hollywood, pg. 40, col. 4:
Bishop Fulton J. Sheen signed a new TV contract and sighed, “The big print giveth and the small print taketh away.”
Law for the Family
By Will Bernard
New York, NY: Scribner
“The large print giveth,” says an old joke, “and the small print taketh away.” That used to be scandalously true of insurance policies.
Punctuate It Right!
By Harry Shaw
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble
In most contracts, the large print giveth; the small print taketh away.
November 1970, Popular Science, pg. 56, col. 2:
As it has been said, “the bold print giveth and the fine print taketh away.”
Real Estate Principles
By Bruce M. Harwood
Teston, VA: Prentice Hall
The phrase, “The large print giveth and the small print taketh away,” is said to have its origins in early fire policies.
New York City • Banking/Finance/Insurance • Wednesday, March 30, 2011 • Permalink