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What is the origin of the phrase None of your beeswax?

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2009-05-30 01:51:02
2009-05-30 01:51:02

a man had a jar of beeswax and someone wanted to know what it was so he said none of your beeswax

There is an absurd story, much repeated on the Internet, that 18th-century ladies used to fill in the pockmarks on their faces (this was when smallpox was a common and disfiguring disease)with beeswax, which would melt if the lady sat too near the fire. If someone else warned her about this, she would retort "mind your OWN beeswax!" I mention this story only to say that there isn't a shred of truth in it. Though beeswax was often (and still is) a component of cosmetics of all kinds, it was not used as a pockmark filler in this way. And, as Smokey correctly says, the saying is of 1920s origin, a childish garbling of "mind your own business". VSD

While it might seem harshly rude to say "mind your own business," changing the last word to "beeswax" softens the blow, and makes a jovial point of the same sentiment.

http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/42/messages/1153.html

Keep from meddling, pay attention to one's own affairs, as in If she would only mind her own business, there would be a lot fewer family quarrels. Already described as a wise course by the ancients (Seneca had it as Semper meum negotium ago, "I always mind my own business"), this precept has been repeated in English since about 1600.

In the 1930s, a slang version rendered the saying as "Mind your own beeswax". It is meant to soften the force of the retort. Folk etymology has it that this idiom was used in the colonial period when women would sit by the fireplace making wax candles together, though there are many other theories.

http://www.answers.com/topic/mind-your-own-business

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