“I think we might say everything’s much more or much less oojah-cum-spiff. Through one exception, Jeeves,” i said, a graver keep in mind coming right into my voice together I offered Gus his second helping the kipper. “There stays a fly in the ointment, a acquainted saying meaning—well, ns don’t quite know what the does mean. It seems to imply a state of affairs at which one is an alleged to watch askance, however why, ns ask myself, shouldn’t flies be in ointment? What injury do they do? and who wants ointment anyway?”

Much Obliged, Jeeves (1971), by the English writer Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975)

 

 

The expression a paris in the ointment means a minor irritation that spoils the success or enjoyment the something.

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It is an allusion come the an initial verse that the Book the Ecclesiastes, 10:

King James variation (1611):Dead flies reason the oyntment that the Apothecary to send soon a stinking sauour: so doeth a small folly, him that is in call for wisedome and honour.

The word ointment denotes a smooth oily substance, often mixed with some medicament, i beg your pardon is rubbed top top the skin for medicinal purposes, or as a cosmetic.

In the biblical verse, the word refers to a cosmetic. In the Literal Translation of the holy bible (an exceptionally literal translation the attempts to maintain the tense and also word intake as discovered in the initial Greek and also Hebrew writings), by Robert Young (1822-88), the city is:

(1863 edition) Dead flies cause the perfumer’s perfume to send soon a stink; The precious by factor of wisdom from honour—a little folly!

And in the New worldwide Version, the city is:

As dead flies give perfume a negative smell, therefore a little folly outweighs wisdom and also honour.

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The earliest provides of a fly in the ointment the I could find space from A human body of practical Divinity, published in 1692, written of sermons by thomas Watson (1620-86), English non-conformist Puritan preacher and also author:

What is Iustification? Resp. The is an act of oh my gosh Free-grace, through which he pardoneth every our sins, and also accepts united state as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed come us, and also received by Faith. Iustification is the an extremely Hinge and also Pillar of Christianity; and also an Errour about Iustification is dangerous, favor a crack in the Foundation, or an Errour in the very first Concoction. Iustification through Christ is a spring of the Water the Life, and also to have the toxicity of corruption Doctrine actors into this Spring, is damnable. It was a speak of Luther, the after his death the doctrine of Iustification would be corrupted. Together it hath remained in these latter Times, the Arminians and also Socinians have actors a dead Fly into this box of precious Oyntment. <…> To do Gods will certainly sincerely, is to carry out it with a pure Eye to god Glory. The Pharisees go the will certainly of God in offering Alms, but that which to be a dead fly in the Ointment, was, the they did no aim at god Glory, but vain-glory. <…> Mat. 6.5. “Be no as the Hypocrites, for they love come pray standing in the corners of the streets, the they might be seen of men.” Prayer is good, but to pray to be seen of men, this was a dead paris in the box of Oyntment.