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A foolish man speaks foolishness.

[Μῶρα γὰρ μῶρος λέγει.]

Euripides (485?-406? BC) Greek tragic dramatist
Bacchæ [Βάκχαι], l. 369 [Tiresias/Τειρεσίας] (405 BC) [tr. Wodhull (1809)]

To Cadmus, about his grandson, Pentheus. (Source (Greek)). Alternate translations:

Folly issues from the mouth of fools.
[tr. Buckley (1850)]

Fools still speak folly.
[tr. Milman (1865)]

Fools blurt their folly out.
[tr. Rogers (1872), l. 357]

The words of a fool are folly.
[tr. Coleridge (1891)]

Fools alone speak folly.
[tr. Way (1898)]

Blind words and a blind heart.
[tr. Murray (1902)]

The words of fools finish in folly.
[tr. Arrowsmith (1960)]

He who speaks folly is himself a fool.
[tr. Kirk (1970)]

The things he has said reveal the depth of his folly.
[tr. Vellacott (1973)]

It is a fool who folly speaks.
[tr. Neuburg (1988)]

You can tell a dangerous fool by his own words.
[tr. Cacoyannis (1982)]

For a fool speaks folly.
[tr. Blessington (1993)]

For Pentheus is a fool and says foolish things.
[tr. Esposito (1998)]

He who speaks foolishness is a fool.
[tr. Woodruff (1999)]

The fool speaks foolish things.
[tr. Gibbons/Segal (2000), l. 435]

His talk is folly and he's a fool.
[tr. Kovacs (2002)]

Often a fool speaks foolishly.
[tr. Valerie (2005)]

A man who's mad tends to utter madness.
[tr. Johnston (2008)]

His foolish words will end in folly.
[tr. Robertson (2014)]

A fool says foolish things.
[tr. @sentantiq (2016)]

The speech of the fool is foolish.
[tr. @sentantiq (2018)]

The tongue of a fool makes a foolish noise.
[tr. Behr/Foster (2019)]

For a foolish man says foolish things.
[tr. Buckley/Sens/Nagy (2020)]

Added on 28-Feb-23 | Last updated 28-Feb-23
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I don’t care how smart you are, if you say something you are liable to say something foolish, and the smarter you are, and the longer you talk, the more foolish things you will say.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) American humorist
“Weekly Article” column (24 Aug 1924)
Added on 25-Jan-23 | Last updated 25-Jan-23
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What inconceivable madness! For it is not enough to call an opinion “foolishness” when it is utterly devoid of reason.

[O delirationem incredibilem! non enim omnis error stultitia dicenda est.]

Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BC) Roman orator, statesman, philosopher
De Divinatione [On Divination], Book 2, ch. 43 (2.43) / sec. 90 (44 BC) [tr. Falconer (1923)]

(Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

  • "What an incredible insanity this is! for every error does not deserve the mere name of folly." [tr. Yonge (1853)]
  • "We must not say that every mistake is a foolish one." This is an early and quite common English translation of the phrase (e.g.) and seems to reverse the meaning.
Added on 23-Nov-20 | Last updated 11-Aug-22
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Stupidity lies in wanting to draw conclusions.

[L’ineptie consiste à vouloir conclure. […] Oui, la bêtise consiste à vouloir conclure.]

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) French writer, novelist
Letter to Louis Bouilhet (4 Sep 1850)

The phrase is used twice in the letter. The initial phrase is usually translated to "foolishness" or "folly," the second to "stupidity."
Added on 23-Jan-20 | Last updated 23-Jan-20
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‘Tis hard bewildering riddles to compose
And labour lost to work at nonsense prose.

[Turpe est difficiles habere nugas,
Et stultus labor est ineptiarum.]

Martial (AD c.39-c.103) Spanish Roman poet, satirist, epigrammatist [Marcus Valerius Martialis]
Epigrams [Epigrammata], Book 2, epigram 86, ll. 9-10 (2.86) [tr. Francis & Tatum (1924), #105]

Discussing writing elaborate or highly stylized poetry forms. (Source (Latin)). Alternate translations:

Disgraceful 't is unto a poet's name
Difficult toys to make his highest am:
The labour's foolish that doth rack the brains
For things have nothing in them, but much pains.
[tr. Killigrew (1695)]

How foolish is the toil of trifling cares.
[tr. Johnson (1750); he credits the translation Elphinston]

How pitifull the boast of petty feats!
How idle is the toil of mean conceits!
[tr. Elphinston (1782), 2.76]

It is disgraceful to be engaged in difficult trifles; and the labour spent on frivolities is foolish.
[tr. Amos (1858), 2.19]

It is absurd to make one's amusements difficult; and labor expended on follies is childish.
[tr. Bohn's Classical (1859)]

'Tis mean and foolish to assign
Long care and pains to trifles light.
[tr. Webb (1879)]

Disgraceful ’tis to treat small things as difficult;
‘Tis silly to waste time on foolish trifles.
[ed. Harbottle (1897)]

'Tis degrading to undertake difficult trifles; and foolish is the labour spent on puerilities.
[tr. Ker (1919)]

'Tis hard bewildering riddles to compose
And labor lost to work at nonsense prose.
[tr. Francis & Tatum (1924)]

It's demeaning to make difficulties out of trifles, and labor over frivolities is foolish.
[tr. Shackleton Bailey (1993)]

It is absurd to make trifling poetry difficult, and hard work on frivolities is foolish.
[tr. Williams (2004)]

The Latin phrase was used by Addison as the epigram of The Spectator #470 (29 Aug 1712).
Added on 18-Oct-17 | Last updated 26-Feb-23
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The only wa tu pleze evra boddy, is tu make evry boddy think yu ar a bigger fule than tha ar.

[The only way to please everybody is to make everybody think you are a bigger fool than they are.]

Josh Billings (1818-1885) American humorist [pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw]
His Sayings, ch. 45 (1867)
Added on 7-Aug-15 | Last updated 7-Aug-15
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I do now remember a saying,
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man
knows himself to be a fool.”

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet
As You Like It, Act 5, sc. 1, l. 30ff [Touchstone] (1599)
Added on 12-May-04 | Last updated 27-Jun-22
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The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.

Richard Feynman (1918-1988) American physicist
“Cargo Cult Science,” commencement address, California Institute of Technology (1974)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Jan-20
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