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I hear it all the time in arguments over subjective judgements:

There's no accounting for taste.

Where does this saying come from? Is it a quote or old proverb?

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

It's an English adaptation of a Latin saying:

De gustibus non est disputandum.

Meaning literally regarding taste, there is no dispute. The phrase seems to be of medieval origin. The origin is accepted as Scholastic writings because of the grammar, which is atypical. A more faithful Latin rendering of the phrase might be:

De gustatibus non disputandum.

There's some uncertainty about whether gustus (gustibus) or gustatus (gustatibus) is more appropriate.

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Jinx! Well, you got it first. – Mitch Jul 7 '11 at 15:48
Umm. Probably not a "Roman proverb" then. But even if it was, in the end this is simply an obvious thing to say - regardless of what language it was first said in. – FumbleFingers Jul 7 '11 at 16:07
@Fumble - it's weird that you have not frequently heard this figure of speech. – Joe Blow Jul 7 '11 at 18:33
@Joe Blow: I've heard it and said it all my life, it seems. I just don't think "the Romans said it", or "the priests said it" means much for a simple observation like this. – FumbleFingers Jul 7 '11 at 18:58
@Fumble, hmm, but the guy is simply asking "What's the origin?" It's a figure of speech - so, what's the origin? Seems like a reasonable question. (I for one did not know it was a "latin phrase," but that interests me. It would be interesting to furthermore learn what historical period it originated in - but it appears we just don't know that.) I believe I understand what you are asserting, you repeat it is a simple observation and hence (I believe you mean) it's rather "sub- figure-of-speech." But it is a figure of speech - so what's the origin? – Joe Blow Jul 7 '11 at 20:20

It is a loan translation of the latin proverb:

De gustibus non est disputandum

meaning literally "there's nothing to be argued about about taste". I don't know which Latin author first used it or if it was a folk saying.

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Wiktionary claims it's probably of medieval origin. – user1579 Jul 7 '11 at 15:49

protected by RegDwigнt Mar 22 '12 at 10:48

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