phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"Beauty is only skin deep, but...."

Posted by R. Berg on October 01, 2007

In Reply to: "Beauty is only skin deep, but...." posted by Smokey Stover on October 01, 2007

: : : : I have always heard my father use this phrase - "Beauty is only skin deep, but ugliness is to the bone." The first part of this phrase, "Beauty is only skin deep" is listed in your archives but I could not find the last part of the phrase, "...but ugliness is to the bone". Can you tell me what the origin of this phrase is?

: : : The Trivia library ([Dead link removed - ed]) has the original saying and say the other version ("an old jingle") is "author unknown":

: : : "Beauty is but skin deep,
: : : ugly lies the bone;
: : : Beauty dies and fades away,
: : : but ugly holds its own."
: : : (© 1975 - 1981 by David Wallechinsky & Irving Wallace Reproduced with permission from "The People's Almanac" series of books.)

: : : I don't know whether the "ugly lies the bone" is a typo (something seems to be missing). Pamela

: : ......

: : There's our old friend Anonymous once again. When a beautiful person dies, the beauty is the first to decay, leaving the bone, ugly by comparison. "Lies" is a usefully one-syllable verb meaning to remain behind, if you stretch it a little.

: : I can't help thinking of Marc Antony's famous speech in Shakepeare's Julius Caesar:

: : Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
: : I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
: : The evil that men do lives after them;
: : The good is oft interred with their bones;
: : So let it be with Caesar.
: : SS

"Ugly lies the bone." The bone lies under the skin and flesh as a mineral deposit might lie under the earth's surface. It just sits there in place, being ugly. That's my interpretation. ~rb