I think it’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid, rather than to continue misquoting this line, and let people know you are a fool.
Ask Google Search, “who said it is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid?”
It boldly spells out as ABRAHAM LINCOLN in big capital letters.
This is the line:
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.” – ABRAHAM LINCOLN
If you still ask Google Search, “who said better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool?”
This time Google opens its mouth and says it is Mark Twain.
It is because Google got this quote from BrainyQuote.
“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”
If you keep asking Google Search, “what did Mark Twain say about keeping your mouth shut?”
This time around, without doubt, Google would share you this quote:
“It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt”
But the fact is, all these different versions of this keep-your-mouth-shut quote is NOT by Mark Twain or Abraham Lincoln.
Keep Your Mouth Shut And Appear Stupid
To remove all your doubts, keep reading…
Here is a list of the variants of this quote:
“It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it.” – Maurice Switzer
(Asbury Park Press, December 5, 2012, P. D5) source
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and to remove all doubt.” – Abraham Lincoln
(Golden Book Magazine, Volume 14, No. 83, Nov 1931, New York: The Review of Reviews Corporation, 1931, Hors-d’ Oeuvres, Advice From The Wise, P. 306) source
“It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubts.” – Anonymous
(Chicago Tribune, May 10, 1923, P. 23) source
“It is better to be silent and thought dumb than to speak and remove all doubt.” – Anonymous
(The Huntington Herald, March 15, 1929, P. 12) source
“After all, perhaps, it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt. ” – Anonymous
(The New Era from Formoso, December 7, 1922, P. 8) source
“It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt.” – Mark Twain
(Hattiesburg American, December 22, 1967, P. 9) source
“It’s a queer world. Remain silent and others suspect that you are ignorant; talk and you remove all doubt about of it.” – Anonymous
(The Wichita Citizen, May 1, 1931. P. 1) source
Note: To view the quote from the newspapers, you need to click on the OCR text.
Mrs. Goose, Her Book
While I was going through my favorite book website Forgotten Books, I came across this rather interesting rare book.
It’s title “Mrs. Goose, Her Book” by Maurice Switzer.
The title sounds like the popular children nursery rhyme book “Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes“ and it was originally published way back 1907.
With just 73 pages, it has an interesting foreword that reads:
Despite the fact that the title is suggestive of the nursery, this is not a piece of juvenile literature; tho the perpetrator admits having written it for a kid. Aside from that there may be no reason for the book, but you may find some reason in it.
It is written and designed just like a typical children nursery rhyme, but the fun and silly content is for a more mature readers.
Then I came upon the adage, “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it” right at the bottom of page 29.
(Mrs. Goose, Her Book By Maurice Switzer(Perpetrator), August W. Hutaf (Illustrator), New York: Moffat, Yard & Company, 1907, P. 29) source
(This free e-book is also found here.)
Related: Here are more free books by Maurice Switzer.
Letters Of A Self-made Failure
Click on this: Link
Satire And Song: Simple Lays And Careless Rhymes Of Olden Days And Modern Times
Click on this: Link
Trying It On The Dog
Click on this: Link
In this book, at the end each short nursery rhyme, it summed up with a perverted proverb, a rephrased of a popular idiom or an epigram.
Switzer does not cite the sources.
If you read through all those epilogues, you would know that they are adapted or rewritten from popular idiomatic expressions, proverbs or biblical text.
Proverbs 17:28 Message
From the outset, this line “It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt of it” sounds very familiar to me.
Good God! It must have been adapted from the biblical Proverbs that shares practically the same message.
I am very certain Maurice Switzer rewrote it based on Proverbs of the Holy Bible.
To be precise, Proverbs 17:28.
Here a just a few versions of Proverbs 17:28:
“Even a fool is considered wise when he keeps silent — discerning, when he seals his lips.”
(Christian Standard Bible, Proverbs 17:28) source
“Fools who keep quiet are deemed wise; those who shut their lips are smart.”
(Common English Bible, Proverbs 17:28) source
“Even a fool, if he stays silent, is thought wise; he who keeps his mouth shut can pass for smart.”
(Complete Jewish Bible, Proverbs 17:28) source
“Even fools seem smart when they are quiet.”
(Contemporary English Version, Proverbs 17:28) source
You can check the list of versions of Proverbs 17:28 over here.
It’s time to stop being a fool by not ascribing this “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt” quote to either Abraham Lincoln or Mark Twain.