We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Why do we say "Patience is a virtue"?

Well-Known Expressions

Patience is a virtue

Meaning:

To be able to wait for something without becoming frustrated is a valuable character trait.

Background:

"Patience is a virtue" is a proverb, which is a short statement that expresses a culturally accepted truth. In this case, the phrase conveys the idea that accepting delayed gratification is a socially desirable trait.

The idea that patience is a good trait to cultivate has been around for a very long time. Some of the earliest written references to the concept are in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, thought to have been compiled during the reign of Solomon (1015-975 BCE) but likely much older, based on oral tradition. Patience is also praised in the New Testament, the Qur’an, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tipitaka, and other religious scriptures created throughout the ages.

Equating patience with virtue may hale back to the Latin text, Distichs of Cato. This collection of proverbs, written around the 2nd or 3rd century, was commonly used as a Latin primer through the 18th century. In it, the unnamed author writes, “Of human virtues, patience is most great." Geoffrey Chaucer relied heavily on this work for his Canterbury Tales (c.1400CE). In The Franklin’s Tale his narrator states, “Pacience is an heigh vertu” (translating to “patience is a high virtue” or “patience is a conquering virtue”).

Another work often credited with originating the phrase “patience is a virtue” is Piers Plowman, written by English poet William Langland. The work, penned in 1360 CE, has the titular character, an exceptionally moral man, leading several individuals on a quest for moral enlightenment, and contains the line “patience is a fair virtue.”

Thomas Chalkley (1675-1741), a Quaker minister in Philadelphia, is believed to be the first American to use this phrase in his writing. It occurs in his 1724 Works of Thomas Chalkley.

Not everyone is on board with believing patience to be a desirable trait, however. Some feel that others use it as an excuse for inaction or laziness. And, as Chelsea Clinton has stated, “Patience is a virtue, but impatience gets things done.”

More expressions and their source

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...
  • Book Jacket: Wild and Distant Seas
    Wild and Distant Seas
    by Tara Karr Roberts
    Tara Karr Roberts is a newspaper columnist who also teaches English and journalism. Wild and Distant...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.