phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Power corrupts

Posted by ESC on January 16, 2003

In Reply to: I NEED SOME HELP PLEASE! (and quick) posted by nikki on January 16, 2003

: "Absolute power corrupts absolutely!" if any one knows what this means PLEASE IM me at littlenik03 or email me at [email protected] I need help!!! and I need help by 1/14/03thank you byebye
: °Nikki °

POWER CORRUPTS, AND ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY - "People in power are often corrupt, and the more power they possess, the more corrupt they are. William Pitt (1708-78), British conservative politician, in a speech on January 9, 1770, said: 'Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.' 'Power tends to corrupt,' said Lord (John) Acton in 1887, in which has become the familiar form of the proverb, 'and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.'." From "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

Another source has a bit more information and a different take on the meaning. William Pitt the Elder was speaking before the House of Lords. Regarding the Acton version, people tend to shorten it to: "Power corrupts." The charge of "power corrupts" is "a charge usually made for Outs against Ins to persuade voters that it's time for a change." From "Safire's New Political Dictionary" by William Safire (Random House, New York, 1993).

Summing up, I think it means "give people an inch and they take a mile."