Why do we say "In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

Well-Known Expressions

In the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

Meaning:

Among incompetents, even mediocrity passes for brilliance

Background:

The first known reference to this proverb is in Why Come Ye Nat to Courte?, a poem by  Englishman John Skelton, published around 1522. The poem is one of a number in which he takes Cardinal Wolsey to task, with pithy lines such as these:

He is so ambicyous
So shamles, and so vicious
And so supersticyous
And so moche oblivious…

Some years before, Skelton had been appointed tutor to the future Henry VIII and was on good terms with Thomas Wolsey, but he ended up in prison later in his life, most likely having offended the, by then, very powerful Cardinal Wolsey. Not long after, Skelton retired from court and became rector of Diss, a town in the East of England, well away from the intrigue of the Tudor court.

Emasmus, who was acquainted with Skelton and his poetry, expressed a similar thought in "Adagia" a few years later: In regione caecorum rex est luscus (in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king).

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...
  • Book Jacket: Castle of Water
    Castle of Water
    by Dane Huckelbridge
    When a whopping 24 out of 27 readers give a book 4 or 5 stars, you know you have a winner on your ...
  • Book Jacket: Havana
    Havana
    by Mark Kurlansky
    History with flavor...culture with spice...language with gusto...it would be hard to find a better ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    If We Were Villains
    by M. L. Rio

    An intelligent and captivating story of the enduring power and passion of words.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Stars Are Fire
    by Anita Shreve

    An exquisitely suspenseful novel about an extraordinary young woman tested by a catastrophic event.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

I have lost all sense of home, having moved about so much. It means to me now only that place where the books are ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -