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Why is the proof in the pudding?

Q: I don’t get the expression “the proof is in the pudding.” It doesn’t make sense to me. Could it have anything to do with the rum or brandy in a Christmas pudding?

A: You deserve a toast for that idea! As for the actual origin of the pudding business, it’s a shortened version of an old proverb popularized by Cervantes in Don Quixote: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The Mavens’ Word of the Day, a Random House website, says the proverb has been around in various guises since about 1300.