Blind Leading the Blind – Origin & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s tackle a phrase that sounds like a bunch of people fumbling around in the dark but actually has zero to do with it. You guessed it; we’re talking about the blind leading the blind.

Though it’s got a touch of humor, this idiom’s message is pretty serious if you ask me. It’s incompetence guiding incompetence. So let’s shed some light on this common expression!

What Does Blind Leading the Blind Mean?

Blind Leading the Blind Origin Meaning

The phrase blind leading the blind refers to an incompetent or inexperienced person leading others who are similarly unskilled or inexperienced. In other words, the leader is as clueless as the led, which usually doesn’t result in the best outcome.

So, if you ever hear this phrase, it’s not a compliment—it’s more like a sarcastic commentary on a less-than-ideal situation.

What Is an Example of the Blind Leading the Blind?

Imagine a group of freshmen college students trying to navigate the massive campus without a map or a guide—just a merry band of newbies trying to locate the biology lab. That is a classic example of the blind leading the blind.

Another good one is taken from my own life. I’ve been an author for a decade and a half now. But during those first years, I had no clue about marketing. I joined a bunch of social media groups, but it was just full of others just like me. We were the blind authors leading other blind authors through the throes of advertising a book.

Is Blind Leading the Blind Offensive?

As with any idiomatic expression, context is key. Some people might find the phrase offensive because it metaphorically uses blindness, a real and serious disability, to depict incompetence or lack of knowledge.

So, while it can seem like a harmless figure of speech, it’s always important to consider your audience’s sensitivity regarding blind people when using idioms like this.

Origin of Blind Leading the Blind

This phrase has a rich history, coming from the Bible in Matthew 15:14, where Jesus says, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” It’s an expression that’s been used for centuries in different forms, but its meaning remains unchanged. It’s a caution about the dangers of following a leader as clueless as oneself.

What Is Another Phrase for Blind Leading the Blind?

In the grand soup of English language idioms, a few others convey similar sentiments. Here are some synonyms you can use.

  • The pot calling the kettle black
  • In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
  • Like the blind wishing to show the way

Blind Leading the Blind Examples in a Sentence

Blind Leading the Blind Origin Meaning 1

Time to illustrate this idiom in action with some deeper context.

  • I begged my mom to help me with my taxes, but it was like the blind leading the blind. We ended up hiring an accountant.
  • In the midst of ignorance about cars, we did our best to find a used vehicle, but it was the blind leading the blind. 
  • When it comes to cooking, asking me to help out is like the blind leading the blind. I can’t even boil water without setting off the smoke alarm.
  • Giving the interns control of the project felt a tad like being led by the blind, but they surprised us all with their innovation.

Don’t Go Blindly

Though it’s rooted in serious biblical discourse, it’s become a universal expression denoting a comedy of errors when the inexperienced are leading the equally clueless. See if you can slip it into a chat with a friend or weave it into some writing!