"Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” was a conservation motto during World War II, popularized in 1942-43. The saying was frequently credited to New England.
“Eat it up, wear it out, make it do” (not “use it up") appears to have been the earlier form of the saying and has been cited in print since at least 1933. The exact origin of what was described in 1937 as “the four threads of the New England character” is not known. Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) was said to have told the four maxims to This Week magazine (see March 1938 citation, below), shortly before his death.
An Astronomer’s Life
By Edwin Brant Frost
Boston, MA, Houghton Mifflin Company
The spirit of New England has been summarized in the words, ‘Eat it up. Wear it out. Make it do.’
Depression, Recovery and Higher Education
By Malcolm M. Willey; American Association of University Professors
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.
Emerson’s wife is said to have given this advice concerning the way to meet economic adversity: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do.”
10 April 1937, Fitchburg (MA) Sentinel, pg. 6, col. 2:
B. K. H., the Sideshowman of the Providence Journal, came across a motto the other day which read: “The four threads of the New England character: Eat it up. Wear it out. Make it do. Go without.” “A grand rule for the elder generations,” B. K. H. concludes, “But I suspect our youngsters won’t care much for it. It’s too confining.” Another way of stating it is that the four threads of the New England character remain the same, but they aren’t being woven any more.
9 October 1937, Sprinfield (MA) Republican, pg. 10, col. 5:
“We are inheritors of a New England tradition many of whose prescriptions are too little heeded in our modern world. The old New England slogans, ‘eat it up,’ ‘wear it out,’ and ‘make it do,’ are too often forgotten in the age of mass production.”
(Dr. James Phinney Baxter, new president of Williams College—ed.)
6 March 1938, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Snatches,” This Week magazine, pg. 2, col. 1:
A SHORT time before his death, Calvin Coolidge was talking to the editor of this magazine about New England. He had been smiling, but suddenly his face became serious as he said: “Four maxims have made New England great. They are:
“‘Eat it up.’ ‘Wear it out.’ ‘Make it do.’ ‘Do without.’”
3 April 1938, New York (NY) Times, “Queries and Answers,” pg. 115:
“Make It Do or Go Without”
R. E. S. wishes the exact wording of an old English adage on thrift to the effect that one matches a thing up, turns it over and makes it do until something better canb be afforded: It reads: “Eat it up, wear it out, make it do, or go without.”
15 June 1941, Springfield (MA) Republican, pg. 14A, col. 2:
A 50 per cent cut in the output of new cars would give strong support to the old Yankee code of thrift: “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do.”
Google News Archive
30 April 1942, Pittsburgh (PA) Post-Gazette, pg. 3 ad:
Gimbels Anniversary Sale
On the home front the most important word in the language is CONSERVE. In the gospel of old New England, we must “use it up, wear it out, make it do.”
8 May 1942, Oregonian (Portland, OR), “Eat it Up, Wear it Out, Make it Do” by Jean Merritt (Heinz Home Institute), pg. 6, col. 1:
“Eat it up, wear it out, make it do.” This pithy Vermont adage might well become the slogan in all our homes today. For, to keep pace with the current national economy planned to meet the cost of our war effort, every patriotic American must live with a degree of thrift new to most of us ‘til now.
7 June 1942, Springfield (MA) Republican, pg. 4A, col. 1:
Calvin Coolidge once said,
“Eat it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Those words have a prophetic ring, for they may well be the theme song of our domestic economy from now until the war is over.
21 June 1942, Springfield (MA) Republican, pg. 4E, col. 8:
The old New England saying that was a favorite of Calvin Coolidge is still good advice today: “Eat it up’ wear it out’ make it do or do without.”
1 October 1942, Big Spring (TX) Daily Herald, “War Board News,” pg. 3, col. 3:
A worthwhile slogan:
“Eat It Up
Wear It Out
Make It Do
Or Do Without”
18 October 1942, New York (NY) Times, “Soldiers of the Kitchen Front” by Louise Stanley, pg. SM18 photo caption:
Skilled hands of the housewife are guided in wartime by the early-American precepts of “Wear it out, use it up, make it do.”
Google News Archive
30 November 1942,
The need for savings does deeper than money savings. We need to save in goods that ordinarily we would consume. The old quatrain perfectly expressed the spirit of to-day:
Use it up,
Wear it out,
Make it do,
Or do without.
3 March 1943, Reno (NV) Evening Gazette, pg. 3, col. 8 ad:
“USE IT UP...WEAR IT OUT...MAKE IT DO...OR DO WITHOUT”
This old proverb is a yardstick for wartime conservation—another way of saying, “Don’t throw it away if there’s still some use in it!”
(J. C. Penney’s—ed.)
1 August 1943, New York (NY) Times, “Consumer Prsopects,” pg. E2:
An old-time byword among thrifty New Englanders was: “Wear it out, use it up, make it do.” After almost twenty months of war the American people are finding increasing use for the slogan. They have had to get the most possible out of food, out of their cars and tires, out of such heavy consumer goods as stoves and refrigerators.
New York (NY) Times
New Glue for You? True.
By STUART ELLIOTT
Published: April 5, 2010
The rotten economy has revived an old saying from thriftier days: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.” So this may be a good time to reintroduce a familiar product that is being reformulated to help consumers repair a wide variety of household items.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics • (1) Comments • Sunday, July 17, 2011 • Permalink
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