Still Waters Run Deep – Origin and Meaning

Photo of author

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.

The saying “still waters run deep” is part of a well-known proverb we’ve used for centuries to describe a certain type of personality or character. You’ll find it used to refer to people who seem quiet and reserved but have profound thoughts and emotions beneath their calm outer shells.

But there’s more to the quote than meets the eye, and there’s a certain way you should use it. So, I’ll explain everything you need to know and show some sentence examples.

Still Waters Run Deep Meaning Explained

Still Waters Run Deep Origin Meaning

Have you ever met someone who seemed so calm and quiet at first, but after you got to know them, you realized there’s a complex personality hidden underneath? That’s where the idea behind “still waters run deep” comes from. On the surface, they’re still and calm, like quiet water. But underneath it all, they’re like a raging sea of wisdom and insight.

This proverb is meant to emphasize the fact that we shouldn’t judge a person’s character or depth of emotions based solely on first impressions or what’s on the exterior. It makes me think of another saying, “You gotta watch out for the quiet ones.”

What Is an Example of Still Waters Run Deep?

At the risk of inserting myself into this, I have to say I think I’m a good example of what it means to have still waters that run deep. By nature, I’m wholly an introvert. I hardly leave my house; my hobbies are reading and studying screen craft. I don’t speak much unless others engage me. However, I’m told by many of my friends that they were surprised to find just what goes on in my head beneath the quiet, neutral exterior.

Origin of the Proverb Still Waters Run Deep

Here’s yet another famous proverb that was made popular by Shakespeare’s work. Now, I say “made popular” because he didn’t create the saying; he just coined it for everyone to experience. The quote, or at least the idea behind the quote, goes back to ancient times and is Latin in origin.

But William Shakespeare used this saying in his play Henry VI in 1590, and it said:

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;

And in his simple show he harbours treason.

Synonyms for Still Waters Run Deep

Here are some alternative phrases that convey the same idea as “still waters run deep”:

  • Quiet people have the deepest thoughts.
  • Calm water is the deepest water.
  • Silence speaks volumes.
  • Don’t judge a book by its cover.
  • Underneath a calm surface, there may be great depth.
  • The quietest people often have the most to say.

Still Waters Run Deep Examples in a Sentence

Still Waters Run Deep Origin Meaning 1

To better illustrate its proper usage, here are just a few sentences I whipped up to show you.

  • Sarah might appear shy and introverted at first, but I promise still waters run deep, and she’s got a fascinating personality once you get to know her.
  • Don’t underestimate John just because he’s quiet. He’s full of great ideas and experience to bring to the team—still waters run deep indeed.
  • Although she hardly ever speaks in meetings, Amy’s insightful comments show that still waters definitely run deep.
  • My husband’s calm demeanor might make you think he’s disinterested but remember that still waters run deep, and he’s just processing everything carefully.
  • Despite my mother’s silence during our discussion about the will, her thoughtful response afterward proved that still waters surely run deep.

It’s Always the Quiet Ones

I hope my quick breakdown of this old proverb helped you understand it a little better! Quotes like this can help deepen the context of a situation, and it’s a nice way of saying someone surprised you with their insightful thoughts!

Enjoyed reading about this proverb? Check out some others we covered: