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The pen is mightier than the sword

  • The pen is mightier than the sword is a proverb with a definite origin. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that may be a famous quote, an inspirational quote, an epigram or the topic of a parable. 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, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, 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 proverb the pen is mightier than the sword, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.



     

    The pen is mightier than the sword means that ideas are more important than brute force; popular opinion is more effective than violence. The pen in this case refers to writing as a way to disseminate ideas, philosophy, and calls to action. Writing or publishing ideas can have a longer-lasting effect on a society than short-term violence. The expression the pen is mightier than the sword was coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton in 1839, in his historical play Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy. Bulwer-Lytton is probably best known for the opening line to his novel, Paul Clifford: “It was a dark and stormy night.” This opening line inspired the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest sponsored by the English Department at San Jose State University, in which participants compose a terrible opening sentence to a novel they will never write.

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    Examples

    “The pen is mightier than the sword and that is especially so in the case of law students.” (The Jamaica Observer)

    In the remote India-China border town of Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh, young people believe the pen is mightier than the sword and they put their minds at work. (The New Indian Express)

    A renowned Highland-based artist is aiming to prove “the pen is mightier than the sword” by auctioning works etched with metal from melted down guns. (The Ross Shire Journal)


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