Have you heard someone say, ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover?’ Are you wondering what that means? Below, we’ll give you the definition and meaning, plus provide examples of how to use the phrase in a sentence correctly.
Essentially, it means that you shouldn’t judge people or things prematurely (before you meet them or before giving them a chance).
‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ is a common American proverb that means you should give someone or something a chance before you make up your mind about them/it.
For example, if you want your friend to come with you to an event they’ve never been to, but they’re being judgmental and making negative comments about it, you might tell them:
- 'Don’t judge a book by its cover. You never know. It could turn out to be more fun than you thought.'
The phrase is essentially a way to tell someone to be more open-minded about something or someone.
For example, if your mom hasn’t met your fiancé yet, you might tell her beforehand:
- 'Okay, mom. Be nice. Don’t judge a book by its cover. He’s a little rough around the edges.'
In the movie, The Devil Wears Prada; Andy is often judged by her cover, so to speak.
The women in her world gawk at her attire throughout the first half of the movie, making her feel less than. You really feel for Andy as she struggles to navigate her first job in the fashion world.
Now that books get made into movies so often, you might also see the phrase:
'Never judge a book by its movie.'
It’s basically telling you not to judge the book by the movie because everyone knows the book is always better.
The phrase ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ comes from a 1944 edition of the African Journal of American Speech.
The first occurrence of the phrase reads:
You can’t judge a book by its binding.
The phrase became more popular when it appeared in the 1946 murder mystery novel, Murder in the Glass Room by Lester Fuller and Edwin Rolfe.
You can never tell a book by its cover.
However, other sources say that it appeared as early as 1860 in George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss.
The passage containing the phrase reads:
‘The History of the Devil’ by Daniel Defoe; not quite the right book for a little girl,” said Mr. Riley, “How came it among your books, Tulliver?” Maggie looked hurt and discouraged, while her father said, “Why, it’s one o’ the books I bought at Partridge’s sale. They was all bound alike, it’s a good binding, you see, and I thought they’d be all good books. There’s Jeremy Taylor’s ‘Holy Living and Dying’ among ’em ; I read in it often of a Sunday.” (Mr. Tulliver felt somehow a familiarity with that great writer because his name was Jeremy); “and there ‘s a lot more of ’em, sermons mostly, I think ; but they ‘ve all got the same covers, and I thought they were all o’ one sample, as you may say. But it seems one mustn’t judge by th’ outside. This is a puzzlin’ world.
How would you use ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ in a sentence?
Let’s see some examples:
What other words or phrases convey the same meaning as ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’?
Let’s see some examples:
To recap, we learned the following:
Remember, it means that you shouldn’t judge people or things prematurely (before you meet them or before giving them a chance).
If you ever forget any of this, you can always come back to review what you learned. We’ve got an entire library of content on other idioms that you might find helpful as you’re studying the language. Go check it out anytime.
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