Did someone say to you, 'actions speak louder than words', and you’re wondering what it means? In this article, we’ll take a look at the meaning, origin, examples, and more.
'Actions speak louder than words' means that what a person does is more important than what they say.
There are two ways you can interpret this idiom:
To better understand these two related meanings, let's look at a couple of examples.
For the first example:
As a second example:
'Actions speak louder than words' is an idiom that has appeared in literature for many hundreds of years. An early variation of the phrase shows up in the 1628 record of the proceedings of the UK parliament known as the Hansard:
'A word spoken in season is like an Apple of Gold set in Pictures of Silver,' and actions are more precious than words.
A few decades later, we find an example of the 'speak louder' version of the phrase in Thomas Manton's Book of Sermons from 1693:
So they would give him Glory, praise him with their Lips, and honour him with their Lives. They would make that their Work and Scope, that this may be the real Language of their Hearts and Actions, which speak much louder than Words.
Using the Google Books Ngram Viewer, we see that 'actions speak louder than words' has not waned in popularity in the last two hundred years. In fact, its usage has increased since 1800.
A publication from 1845 entitled Proverbs mentions this idiom, and explains that 'actions speak louder than words' is:
"...a very common observation, and by long and frequent usage has become an established maxim; and it has its significancy. In illustrating its meaning, it may be observed, that words are often deceptive, are hypocritical, false, flattering, and insincere, and therefore are not to be considered so decisive evidences of the truth and reality of things, as actions. Actions may be, and indeed sometimes are, deceptive in a measure, though not as much so as words; and, accordingly are received in general as more full and satisfactory proofs of the real disposition and character of persons than verbal expressions."
Here is an example of the phrase in use in 1830 in the Warder Cresson text Babylon the Great Is Falling:
"Well may even the heathen call thee and thy subjects infidels; for thou hast been a stumbling block to them, in professing one thing and acting directly contrary; thou hast been thy own judge and passed they own sentence; when thou has cried from thy pulpits and galleries that "Actions speak louder than Words," they most assuredly do..."
How would 'actions speak louder than words' be used in a sentence?
Let’s take a look at some examples:
What are some other words and phrases that have a similar meaning to 'actions speak louder than words'?
Here are some options for related idioms:
'Action speaks louder than words' is an idiom that means that what you do carries more weight than what you say. This implies that acting directly is more effective than talking about action, and the fact that the way a person acts can be a better way to understand who they really are than what they say.
Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Be sure to check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!
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