in the country of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

‘A little wit, among foolish people, will pass a man for a great genius’ (T. Fielding Proverbs of all Nations (1824) 23); also used of ability as well as wit. Cf. ERASMUS Adages III. iv. in regione caecorum rex est luscus, in the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

1522 J. SKELTON Works (1843) II. 43 An one eyed man is Well syghted when He is amonge blynde men.

1640 G. HERBERT Outlandish Proverbs no. 469 In the kingdome of blind men the one ey’d is king.

1830 J. L. BURCKHARDT Arabic Proverbs 34 The one-eyed person is a beauty in the country of the blind.

1904 H. G. WELLS in Strand Apr. 405 Through his thoughts ran this old proverb..‘In the Country of the Blind, the One-Eyed Man is king.’

1937 W. H. SAUMAREZ SMITH Letter 7 Mar. in Young Man’s Country (1977) ii. You exaggerate the alleged compliment paid to me by the Bengal Govt. in wanting to retain my services. ‘In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.’

2002 B. MONAHAN Sceptred Isle Club i. 9 His success with crime-solving suggested an extraordinary intelligence, but he could never know from his limited vantage point in provincial Brunswick whether he was merely the one-eyed man in the land of the blind and the Jekyl Island Club solution a fluke.


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