Actions Speak Louder Than Words (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Actions Speak Louder Than Words"?

The term "actions speak louder than words" means it's better to do something than just talk about it. It is a version of the saying "words are cheap."
Actions Speak Louder Than Words (Origin)
As recorded in Hansard (the traditional name of the transcripts of UK Parliamentary debates), a version of the proverb "actions speak louder than words" was spoken in 1628 by John Pym (Member of Parliament for Tavistock, Devon):
  • "A word spoken in season is like an Apple of Gold set in Pictures of Silver, and actions are more precious than words."
The earliest account featuring "speak louder" comes from clergyman Thomas Manton's "Book of Sermons" published in 1693:
  • "So they would give him Glory, praise him with their Lips, and honour him with their Lives. They would make that their Work and Scope, that this may be the real Language of their Hearts and Actions, which speak much louder than Words."
The earliest version of the full version as we know it appears in "The Melancholy State of Province" (a collection of letters from 1736):
  • "Actions speak louder than Words, and are more to be regarded." (anon)
  • (Notice that all nouns were given capital letters in and before that era.)

Examples of Use:

  • I've had three assurances that the project will be completed soon. Well, let's see. Actions speak louder than words.
  • John has told me he intends to apologize. Actions speak louder than words.
  • I've heard enough. I'll believe it when I see it. Actions speak louder than words.
Grammatically speaking, "actions speak louder than words" is a declarative sentence (i.e., one that makes a statement).

Previous and Next Sayings

Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms

Ready for the Test?

More Proverbs, Sayings, and Idioms

Help Us To Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
Next lesson >

See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

Page URL