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

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Last Mrs. Parrish
    The Last Mrs. Parrish
    by Liv Constantine
    Amber has lived in poverty all her life, and she has had enough. Of course, wishing to have money ...
  • Book Jacket: Never Coming Back
    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee
    18 out of 23 reviewers gave Alison McGhee's Never Coming Back a rating of 4 or 5, with an average ...
  • Book Jacket: Solar Bones
    Solar Bones
    by Mike McCormack
    Written in a poetic, line-breaking style, Mike McCormack's Solar Bones reads with a breathless ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Wonder Valley
    by Ivy Pochoda

    A visionary and masterful portrait of contemporary L.A. from the author of Visitation Street.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man...

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

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E Dog H I D

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.