‘There's None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See’: Definition, Meaning, and Examples

By Sophia Merton, updated on December 29, 2022

Have you ever heard someone say, ‘there’s none so blind as those who will not see’? What does this mean, and where does it come from?

‘There’s none so blind as those who will not see’ is a proverb that means that you can’t force understanding on someone who is choosing to be ignorant of a specific truth.

What Does ‘There's None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See’ Mean?

‘There’s none so blind as those who will not see’ is a proverb that means that you won’t ever succeed in making someone accept or understand something if they are too unwilling or stubborn to notice or learn.

The proverb is sometimes written as follows:

“There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”

A common variation of the phrase is “there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.”

You’ve probably experienced this before, or perhaps you’ve even been guilty of being one of the people that ‘will not see.’

An example of this would be if your best friend were dating someone that treated them terribly. Maybe their significant other was always saying cruel things to them, doing things that were purposefully hurtful, or even physically hurting their friend.

This is obviously a very difficult situation. Maybe you’ve told your friend over and over that they deserve better and should leave, but they won’t. Maybe you can even tell that they know, deep down, that they shouldn’t be in the relationship. Regardless, they refuse to accept the truth of the matter and continue to stay with the person that is harmful to them.

This is an example of someone being blind to something that they are able to see but unwilling to see.

Where Does ‘There's None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See’ Come From?

According to the Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, this proverb can be traced back to John Heywood in 1546, who was an English writer that was best known for his poems, plays, and collection of proverbs.

The original phrasing was as follows:

“Who is so deafe, or so blynde, as is hee, that wilfully will nother heare nor see.”

Heywood actually documented a lot of proverbs that are still popular today and, in some cases, was the first person to put them into print. Some other proverbs he recorded include:

  • A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush (Better one byrde in hande than ten in the wood)
  • A friend in need is a friend indeed (A freende is neuer knowne tyll a man haue nede)
  • A rolling stone gathers no moss (But sonne, the rolling stone neuer gatherth mosse)
  • All’s well that ends well (Well aunt (quoth Ales) all iwell that ends well)
  • Beggars can’t be choosers (Beggers should be no choosers, but yet they will:
  • Who can bryng a begger from choyse to begge still?)
  • Don’t put the cart before the horse (to tourne the cat in the pan, or set the cart before the hors)
  • Let sleeping dogs lie (It is euill wakyng of a slepyng dog)
  • Make hay while the sun shines (Whan the sonne shynth make hey. whiche is to saie,
  • Take tyme whan tyme coomth, lest tyme stele awaie)
  • Out of sight, out of mind (Tyme is tyckell. and out of syght out of mynde)
  • Worse for wear (But sens al thyng is the wors for the wearing)

We could go on and on! Heywood recorded countless proverbs that you will still hear in our modern age.

Now, back to ‘there’s none so blind as those who will not see.’ There is quite a bit of resemblance between ‘there’s none so blind as those who will not see’ to a verse in the Bible: Jeremiah 5:21. This verse reads:

“Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not.”

In this verse, the idea is not that the people that have eyes and can’t see are actually blind or that the people that have ears and can’t hear are actually deaf, but that they are unwilling to acknowledge the truths of the world. This ends up leaving them morally impaired and ignorant.

It is also similar to Matthew 13:13:

“Therefore I speak to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.”

The phrase also resembles the Biblical verse Isaiah 6:9-10:

“And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear you indeed, but understand not; and see indeed, but perceive not.

Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.”

You can also find the phrase in Jonathan Swift’s ‘Polite Conversation’ in 1738 and the ‘Works of Thomas Chalkley’ from 1713.

The phrase is also included in the song Everything Is Beautiful by Ray Stevens, which was released in 1970.

Examples of ‘There's None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See’ In Sentences

How would you use this proverb in a sentence? Let’s look at some examples.

  • “Billy simply refuses to realize that his wife is cheating on him even though she doesn’t even hide it that well. There’s none so blind as those who will not see, I guess.”
  • “This guy constantly emails me even though I stopped responding a long time ago. You know what they say– there’s none so blind as those who will not see.”
  • “It doesn’t matter how hard I try; I simply cannot convince her. There’s none so blind as those who will not see.”
  • “Her parents are unwilling to accept that she is acting out because they have been so overprotective. There’s none so blind as those who will not see.
  • No one believes that this business is going to make it for another year, but he won’t hear it. There’s none so blind as those who will not see.
  • “Jonathan has been stealing from the store for years, but the owner simply refuses to accept it. There’s none so blind as those who will not see.

Other Ways to Say ‘There's None So Blind as Those Who Will Not See’

How else can you communicate a similar meaning as ‘there’s none so blind as those who will not see’? Are there other phrases that have a synonymous message?

Let’s look at some other ways to describe a similar scenario as this proverb:

  • Willfully ignorant
  • Willfully blind
  • There are none so deaf as those who will not hear
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink

No one wants to be willfully ignorant, but we all might be guilty of being blind to things that are right in front of our noses from time to time. This phrase nicely sums up the experience of trying to help someone or tell someone something true and obvious that they are unwilling to accept.

Are you looking for more English phrases to add to your vocabulary? Make sure you check out our idioms blog!

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia Merton is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is passionate about reading, writing, and the written word. Her goal is to help everyone, whether native English speaker or not, learn how to write and speak with perfect English.

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