Fool Definition › Proverbs About Fools




Let’s talk first about “Where” proverbs come from. Proverbs have been used for centuries and across cultures and all languages. 

There is no exact date or “period’ that we can say proverbs were invented, as we continue to see historic references that pre-date Christ. 

Of course, proverbs have been popularized by their use in the Bible, yet they have appeared in writings of Plato (When the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself; Solomon (When the mind is thinking, it is talking to itself).

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WHAT – What is a Proverb? 

Ask Siri and you will get a dictionary version something like: “a short popular saying, usually of unknown ancient origin, that effectively expresses some commonplace truth or useful thought.”

 In Fact, there is real no coconscious on “What exactly” a proverb is or isn’t.

Wolfgang Mieder suggests “composite definition” is based on words that occur “from four to twenty times in the collected definitions”: a proverb is “a phrase, saying, sentence, statement, or expression of the folk which contains above all wisdom, truth, morals, experience, lessons, and advice concerning life and which has been handed down from generation to generation” (Proverbs Are Never out of Season 24).

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WHO uses proverbs and Why. 

EVERYONE! WHY? Because they are effective in communicating experiences and observations from everyday life, in the work place or business situation, virtually any form of human exchange.

If we look at Wolfgang Mieder’s definition he suggests that proverbs come from the past and “ancient.” However, proverbs continue to be developed and in many cases come first in the form of quotes. 

The difference today, is that we most often know the author or who created the “Proverb.” 

Proverbs today, as in the past, serve as guideposts and are effective vehicles of communication for personal communications, advertisements, cartoons, political communications, and the mass media. 

We have covered the WHERE, WHAT, and the WHY of proverbs.  Specifically, we will look at PROVERBS ABOUT FOOLS.

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First let’s look at a definition for FOOL. As with Proverbs, the word fool can have slightly different meaning and interpretations depending on the tree and perspective you are looking from: “It’s not what you look t that matters, it’s what you see” ~Henry David Thoreau

For most of us today If you call someone a fool, you are indicating that you think they are not at all sensible and show a lack of good judgment. (Collins Dictionary)

If you look at the word FOOL from a Biblical perspective, it is a little different. Generally speaking, a fool from a Biblical definition is someone who disregards God’s word, someone who has contempt and disrespect for Christianity and the word of God.

We will look at Proverbs about Fools, more specifically English and American proverbs about fools.

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1. A cigarette is a pipe with a fire at one end, a fool at the other, and a bit of tobacco in between.

~ American Proverb

Meaning in Everyday Life: If you smoke you should stop or reduce the amount you smoke. 

Situational Dialogue:

Jim: Hey Paul! I see you started smoking again! 

Paul: Yeah, I know. Everyone at work is smoking and I feel out of the loop.

Jim: Well you know what they say: “A cigarette is a pipe with a fire at one end, a fool at the other, and a bit of tobacco in between.”

Paul: Yeah, I guess it is kind of a foolish excuse!

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2. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.

~ English proverb

Meaning in Everyday Life:  This proverb originates from the bible Proverbs 18:2 ESV.  Basically, it means that if you are only interested in your opinion and do not seek to understand what other people think, you are a fool.

Situational Dialogue:

Nancy: I am so frustrated with Paul!

Sally: What’s going on, Nancy?

Nancy: He doesn’t listen to me and he loves the sound of his own voice. I mean I have      presented so many ideas and he just doesn’t seem to care about anyone else’s opinion except his!

Sally: Well you know that old proverb: “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.”

Nancy: Yep! That fits him. Exactly!

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3. A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.

~ English proverb.

Meaning in Everyday Life: This is almost literal in meaning and not much for metaphorical.  It probably originated from a lawyer who was suggesting that anyone who represents themselves in a legal matter, is a fool. 

However, we could use this metaphorically in suggesting that anyone who treats themselves, provides self-therapy, or attempts to diagnose themselves without professional advice. This proverb could be used.

Situational Dialogue:

Bill: Hey Jack, what are you reading?

Jack: I am reading a law book I got from the library. I am being sued by my neighbor and I do not want to pay for a lawyer.

Bill: Are you serious! Do you know anything about law? You are an Engineer not a lawyer!

Jack: Well how hard can it be. I always watch legal shows and it doesn’t look that hard to me!

Bill: Well, don’t say I didn’t tell you! You know what they say: “A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.”

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4. Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.

~ English proverb

Meaning in Everyday Life: This is a biblical quote Proverbs 17:28. There are some famous variations of this quote. 

Basically, it means by staying quiet and not speaking a person might be viewed as wiser than when they speak and say something stupid. A famous quote by Abraham Lincoln: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”

Situational Dialogue:

Brenda: Good morning Linda. What did you think of Donald’s meeting yesterday.

Linda: Well, it was another classic!

Brenda: Well, sometimes Donald just doesn’t know when to keep his mouth closed!

Linda: Yeah, I was shocked by what he said about the last CEO.

Brenda: Yeah, I mean I understand he has something to prove to everyone.

Linda: Well you know what they say: “Even fools are thought wise when they keep silent; with their mouths shut, they seem intelligent.” 

Brenda: Yep! I couldn’t have said it better myself!

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5. Everyone has a fool in his sleeve.

~ English proverb

Meaning in Everyday Life: No one is always right, and no one is always wise.

Situational Dialogue:

Phil: Hey Patty, it is great to see you back at work.

Patty: Hi Phil, thanks. It is sure good to be back after what happened.

Phil: Oh? I don’t understand.

Patty: Well, the real reason I was off work is that I was taking the garbage out in my slippers and I slipped on the ice and fell. I mean how stupid of me!

Phil: Oh common Patty!  Everyone makes mistakes. Haven’t you heard the proverb: “Everyone has a fool in his sleeve.”

Patty: No, I never heard of it, but it certainly fits, I felt very foolish.

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6. Only fools and horses work.

~ English proverb

Meaning in Everyday Life: This proverb simple means that people who make a living without working hard, are smart. It suggests only a foolish person has to work and those who are knowledgeable and resourceful don’t need to.

Situational Dialogue:

Joe: Hey Nathan, it’s been a long time! How are you?

Nathan: Quite well! I am the CEO of a big company. And you?

Joe: Wow! Congratulations! What company? I am working as an Engineer.

Nathan: Oh how ghastly! You mean with your hands? It was my father’s company and he asked me to take over! I work 2 hours a day and then go to the club and relax!

Joe: Oh wow. I don’t think I could do that. I need to work and feel like I’ve accomplished something. Do you ever sometimes feel like working with your hands?

Nathan: Heavens no! You know what they say: “Only fools and horses work.”

Joe: Well I guess I am a big fool. Nice seeing you, take care.

Nathan: Ta-ta now. Charmed.

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