We Ask Advice But We Mean Approbation Meaning Explained

Find out we ask advice but we mean approbation meaning fully explained in simple language you can understand.

On the surface, this epigrammatic aphorism appears simple and direct.

But if you explicate it, you would realize what English writer Charles Caleb Colton wrote is truly profound and interesting about human nature.


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By the way, this quote is definitely authentic by Charles Caleb Colton.

“We ask advice, but we mean approbation.” – Charles Caleb Colton

(Lacon, Or, Many Things In Few Words: Addressed To Those who Think By Charles Caleb Colton, Complete In One Volume, London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green & Longmans, 1837, CXC, P. 103) source

(The quote is also found here.)

This 1822 “Lacon, or Many Things in Few Words” is his most famous books.

We ask advice, but we mean approbation meaning

We Ask Advice, But We Mean Approbation Meaning

In this quote by Charles Caleb Colton, the one word which needs to focus on is “approbation“.

Approbation means approval or acceptance.

What Colton is trying to say is:

When we seek advice from other people, it is not actually the advice or guidance per se which we want to hear from them.

What we really want from them is their approval or endorsement to your solution or perspective.

In other words, we already have our own view in mind.

The so-called seeking advice is actually asking others to validate our perspective or view.

Reflect over this pithy saying by Charles Caleb Colton.

Isn’t it true each time, when we ask people for any advice, we are actually just checking whether they agree with our perspective?

For instance, when you are out shopping with a companion, and you can’t decide which color shirt to choose from.

Most definitely you would ask his or her view.

Before your companion make his or her opinion, back in your mind, you already have a preferred choice.

It is just that you are unsure of your own already decision.

You can say to ask for advice is to seek an opinion that matches your own.

We just want reassurance for our own opinion.

This is indeed an interesting and insightful observation made by eccentric Charles Caleb Colton.

I hope you like explanation of we ask advice but we mean approbation meaning.

There is this similar quote by notorious American novelist Erica Jong.

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t…” – Erica Jong

(How To Save Your Own Life By Erica Jong, Penguin Publishing Group, 1995, A Day In The Life…,P. 53) source

Note: You can get the free book “How To Save Your Own Life” by Erica Jong here.

You can also find her other books here.

Here are some interesting advice quotations with cited sources, you should check them out.


“I always pass on good advice. It is the only thing to do with it. It is never of any use to oneself. Oscar Wilde

(An Ideal Husband By Oscar Wilde, Paris: Leonard Smithers And Company, 1899, First Act, P. 49)

(The quote is also found in: An Ideal Husband By Oscar Wilde, Massachusetts, US: Courier Corporation, 2012, Act I)


“Nothing is given so profusely as advice.” – François de La Rochefoucauld

On ne donne rien si libéralement que ses conseils. (French)

(Reflections: Or Sentences And Moral Maxims by Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Prince De Marsillac, Translated From The Editions Of 1678 And 1827 With Introduction, Notes, And Some Account Of The Author And His Times By J. W. Willis Bund, M.A. LL.B and J. Hain Friswell, London: Simpson Low, Marston & Company, Ltd., 1898, 110, P. 15)

(The quote is also found in: Reflections: Or, Sentences and Moral Maxims By François Duc De La Rochefoucauld, Edited by John William Willis Bund, James Hain Friswell, London: S. Low, Son, and Marston, 1871, 110, P. 15)

(The quote in French is found .)


“Advice is like a doctor’s pills; how easily he gives them! how reluctantly he takes them when his turn comes.” – Fanny Fern

(Ginger-Snaps By Fanny Fern, New York: G.W. Carleton & Co, 1870, Wishings And Longings, P. 280) source

(The quote is also found here and here.)


“What the world wants is good examples, not so mutch advice; advice may be wrong, but examples prove themselves.” – Josh Billings

(The Complete Works Of Josh Billings, Henry W. Shaw, New York: G. W. Dillingham, 1876, Puddin And Milk, P. 216)

(The quote is also found .)


“People are always willing to follow advice when it accords with their own wishes.” – Countess Of Blessington

(The Confessions Of An Elderly Lady By Marguerite Countess of Blessington, London: Simms And M’Intyre, P. 125) source

(The quote is also found here.)


“Advice is seldom welcome; and those who want it the most, always like it the least.” – Philip Stanhope (4th Earl of Chesterfield)

(Letters Written By The Late Right Honourable Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield: To His Son, Philip Stanhope, Esq., Late Envoy Extraordinary At The Court of Dresden; With His Lordship’s Life, And An Account Of His Son; The Art Of Pleasing, An Additional Series Of Letters; Some Poems; And Several Other Pieces On Various Subjects In Two Volumes, Volume 1, Boston: Printed For John Boyle & John Douglas, 1792, Letter CVI, January 29th, 1748, P. 200) source

(The quote is also found here.)


Here is a free book by Charles Caleb Colton.

Hypocrisy: A Satire, in Three Books. Book the First
By Charles Caleb Colton

Disclaimer: I do not own or published all the books mentioned here. They are from a third-party websites.