phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: 'many a true word is spoken in jest'

Posted by ESC on June 24, 2004

In Reply to: Re: 'many a true word is spoken in jest' posted by ESC on June 24, 2004

: : Any idea on an original use?

MANY A TRUE WORD IS SPOKEN IN JEST - "Some truths, too painful or too likely to provoke, can be spoken only when the listener has been disarmed by laughter. A proverbial truth known for centuries, this notion was apparently first recorded by Chaucer with the line, 'A man may seye full sooth (truth) in game and pley,' from 'Canterbury Tales' (c. 1387). In 'King Lear' , William Shakespeare wrote, 'Jesters do oft prove prophets,' and some years later, essentially the modern version was rendered in the 'Roxburghe Ballad' (c. 1665): Many a true word hath been spoken in jest.." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).