Out of sight, out of mind

Out of sight, out of mind is a proverb that dates to the 1500s, though its roots are much older. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. These common sayings are language tools that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never, early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, haste makes waste, blood is thicker than water, and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the expression out of sight, out of mind, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Out of sight, out of mind means that once something or someone is gone for a period of time, it is no longer thought about. For instance, you may have a good friend who has lived next door to you for many years. If he moves away, you will probably not see him much and in time, will not even think about him much. This does not mean you don’t care about him, it simply means that other things demand your attention. The proverb out of sight, out of mind sometimes refers to people losing touch, but may also mean that it is easy to forget about certain responsibilities or obligations if they do not demand your immediate attention. The idea of forgetting someone when they have long been absent goes back at least to Homer’s epic, the Odyssey. The English phrase out of sight, out of mind uses the old expression out of mind to mean forgotten. The proverb out of sight, out of mind was first recorded in John Heywood’s 1546 work, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue.


“We’ve been out of sight, out of mind, so now with the collaborative work of the coalition, we’re starting to see momentum and cohesion,” she told Basel and Howard. (The Southeast Express)

The sheer scale of these devices and the inconspicuous location or mode of their deployment creates the sentiment of “out of sight, out of mind.” (CPO Magazine)

“The storm sewer system is out of sight, out of mind . . . and we get thousands of complaints about everything from the sidewalks, curbs and cracks and potholes on the streets and sidewalks.” (The Birmingham Times)

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