Rob the Cradle

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Meaning of Idiom 'Rob the Cradle

To rob the cradle means to date [have a romantic or sexual relationship with] or marry someone much younger than oneself. 1,2

Usage

This expression is used to describe any relationship where one person is much younger than the other, even if neither is a minor.

Examples:

"The singer was heavily criticized for marrying his own cousin, and at the same time, robbing the cradle. She was only fourteen!"

"I can't believe old Mr. Peterson is marrying a 25-year old woman. He really likes to rob the cradle."

Origin

Used since the first half of the 1900's 2, this idiom alludes figuratively to stealing a baby out of its cradle.

Sources
1. Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill's American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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