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The meaning and origin of the expression: Many a true word is spoken in jest

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Many a true word is spoken in jest

Meaning

A literal meaning; that the truth is often found in comic utterances.

Origin

The first author to express this thought in English was probably Geoffrey Chaucer. He included it in The Cook's Tale, 1390:

But yet I pray thee be not wroth for game; [don't be angry with my jesting]
A man may say full sooth [the truth] in game and play.

Shakespeare later came closer to our contemporary version of the expression, in King Lear, 1605:

Jesters do oft prove prophets.