Quote: better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool (antedating 1907)

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat Feb 20 19:12:42 UTC 2010

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and
remove all doubt.

This remark is attributed to Abraham Lincoln in 1931 as noted in the
Yale Book of Quotations. The earliest instance of the quip in YBQ is
dated 1923. Here is a version with a publication date of 1907 and an
internally specified copyright date of 1906. The witticism is

Citation: 1907, "Mrs. Goose, Her Book" by Maurice Switzer, Page 29,
Moffat, Yard & Company, New York. (Google Books full view. WorldCat
agrees with the publication and copyright dates.)

It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool,
than to talk and remove all doubt of it

Ralph Keyes in The Quote Verifier notes that there is a Biblical
proverb that makes a related point though without as much humor. A
cross-reference makes sense I think. Of course space is limited in a
physical book, but an ebook or online repository can include the
linkage and some do.

Proverbs 17:28 - King James Version (according to bible.cc)
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that
shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list