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See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

  • See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is a proverb that is hundreds of years old. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. These language tools 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 expressions as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are better late than never, curiosity killed the cat, an apple a day keeps the doctor away, never look a gift horse in the mouth, blood is thicker than water, and don’t count your chickens before they hatch. 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 see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil, where it came, from and some examples of its use in sentences.


     

    The phrase see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil has come to mean something different than was originally intended. In the West, the proverb see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil means to turn a blind eye to something that is legally or morally wrong. In this case, a person who will see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil pretends that he has not witnessed wrongdoing, and therefore abdicates all responsibility in righting a wrong. The proverb see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil is derived from a work of art. A seventeenth century carving above the door in Tōshō-gū shrine in Nikkō, Japan depicts three monkeys–one with his hands covering his eyes, one with his hands covering his ears, and one with his hands covering his mouth. The original meaning of the expression is that one should avoid evil. This sculpture is inspired by Confucius, who is believed to have said: “Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety”

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    Examples

    Also painted on the instrument are three figures with spray paint, glasses and headphones, a callback to the proverbial “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil,” Underwood said. (The Indianapolis Star)

    Earlier, it placed the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” monkeys political maxim with a banner saying ‘Omertà’ in front of the police headquarters in a protest stunt. (Times Malta)

    The three-monkeys principle — see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — was, in the areas of physical or sexual abuse, close enough to convention for many generations. (The Irish Examiner)


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