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Silence is golden

Posted by ESC on April 13, 2001

In Reply to: Silence is golden posted by Jackie Farney on April 13, 2001

: Can anyone give me the origin of the phrase, Silence is golden? Thanks.

SILENCE IS GOLDEN -"It is best not to speak. Now also used in the sense that quiet is a priceless gift. The proverb has been traced back to 1865, and was first attested in the United States in 'Changes' by H.W. Nevinson."From the "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

I think the saying is probably older. Here are some related entries from "A Dictionary of American Proverbs" by Wolfgang Mieder, Stewart A. Kingsbury & Kelsie B. Harder. There must be some ancient association between speech and silver. "Speech is silver. Silence is golden." "Words are silver and silence is gold." "The tongue of the just is a choice silver, the heart of the wicked is little worth."

Then there's William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet." "How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night, Like softest music to attending ears!"