out of the mouths of babes

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From King James Bible, Psalms 8:2, "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength". (Note that mouth is singular in the Biblical verse, and that the usage of this expression differs from the modern proverbial usage.)

Proverb[edit]

out of the mouths of babes

  1. From the comments of children, who are honest and innocent, . . . (comes truth or wisdom).
    • 1859, Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Professor at the Breakfast Table, ch. 1:
      Not only out of the mouths of babes and sucklings, but out of the mouths of fools and cheats, we may often get our truest lessons.
    • 1906, Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook's Hill, ch. 10:
      Again Puck translated to Kadmiel in the strange, solemn-sounding language, and at last Kadmiel laughed.
      "Out of the mouths of babes do we learn," said he.
    • 1982 May 7, John J. O'Connor, "Art: TV Weekend," New York Times (retrieved 8 Sept 2013):
      Goldie Hawn . . . insists, at times a bit too gushingly, that out of the mouths of babes will inevitably come everything spontaneous and pure in this world.
    • 2010 Feb. 12, "First Graders' Valentines" (news video), Time (retrieved 8 Sept 2013):
      (CAPTION) Out of the mouths of babes, love is explained. Brooklyn first graders write and read their valentines and describe the meaning of Valentines Day.

Usage notes[edit]

  • This expression is sometimes used as a stand-alone phrase, with the implied completion "comes truth or wisdom", and sometimes this expression is actually followed by words more-or-less equivalent to "comes truth or wisdom".

References[edit]