Post by Lewis
That says it's Arabian, not Arab (is that the same thing?).
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The camel's nose is a metaphor for a situation where the permitting of a
small, seemingly innocuous act will open the door for larger, clearly
U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater used the metaphor in expressing his opposition
to the National Defense Education Act in 1958:
This bill and the foregoing remarks of the majority remind me of an old
Arabian proverb: "If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body
will soon follow." If adopted, the legislation will mark the inception of
aid, supervision, and ultimately control of education in this country by
the federal authorities.
According to Geoffrey Nunberg, the image entered the English language in
the middle of the 19th century. An early example is a fable printed in
1858 in which an Arab miller allows a camel to stick its nose into his
bedroom, then other parts of its body, until the camel is entirely inside
and refuses to leave. Lydia Sigourney wrote another version, a widely
reprinted poem for children, in which the camel enters a shop because the
workman does not forbid it at any stage.
The 1858 example above says, "The Arabs repeat a fable", and Sigourney says
in a footnote, "To illustrate the danger of the first approach of evil
habit, the Arabs have a proverb, 'Beware of the camel's nose.'" However,
Nunberg could not find an Arab source for the saying and suspected it was a
An early citation with a tent is "The camel in the Arabian tale begged and
received permission to insert his nose into the desert tent." By 1878,
the expression was familiar enough that part of the story could be left
unstated. "It is the humble petition of the camel, who only asks that he
may put his nose into the traveler's tent. It is so pitiful, so modest,
that we must needs relent and grant it."
A 1909 essay by John B. West, founder of the West legal classification
system, used the metaphor to describe the difficulty of trying to insert an
otherwise innocuous set of facts into a rigid legal system:
three excellent digesters  spent an entire day in disagreeing as to
whether seal fishery cases should be classified under the topic 'Fish' or
that of 'Game' .... It is the old story of the camel's head in the tent.
What seems at first a plausible pretext for forcing some novel case or new
principle into a topic or subdivision to which it does not naturally
belong, leads to hopeless confusion.
In a 1915 book of fables by Horace Scudder, the story titled The Arab and
His Camel ends with the moral: "It is a wise rule to resist the beginnings
The phrase was used in Reed v. King (193 CA Rptr. 130 - 1983):[citation
needed] "The paramount argument against an affirmative conclusion is it
permits the camel's nose of unrestrained irrationality admission to the
tent. If such an 'irrational' consideration is permitted as a basis of
rescission the stability of all conveyances will be seriously undermined."
The case in question involved a plaintiff suing because the defendant sold
a house without telling them that the house's previous inhabitants had been
brutally murdered 10 years earlier.