Learn English – the origin of phrase “for fun and profit”


Sounds like something a snake oil salesman on the wild west could come up with. Can the origins be traced?


In a transcript of a state trial from 1798:

What did you give it him for? Did he make use of it? Was it to protect his copper from being changed that you did it? — He was very officious to make things in a light easy way without much trouble, to make nis bread light. But I did it more in fun than profit.

This is clearly not the same phrase, but it seems to be more than an accidental use of those two words togather.

Best Answer

I don't know about the origins, but it is definitely not a recent expression. As the following examples found with Google Books indicate, the expression is used since the 19th century at least:

Pamphlets, Religious: Miscellaneous (1847)

It matters not if you call it a "fish pond" for fun and profit„or a five cent chance to get a quilt at a draw or a raffle given by a Ladies' Aid Society of Church, or the profits on editing a newspaper for one day, or running a railroad


The American Angler (1897)

I am now fixing up some trout ponds, a pet scheme of mine, in which I shall propagate trout for fun and profit. The law here is, that no one can sell trout in market unless from private ponds, and I shall of course be in the game.