Sep 2, 2021
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The meaning of the proverb “There is no truth at the feet”

The meaning of the proverb

“There is no truth at the feet” – we often say or hear this phrase from others. Some people, especially children who take the expression literally, ask the question “Why is there no truth in the legs?”

Did you know that initially the proverb sounded not as joking as it is perceived now? Everything becomes clear if you get acquainted with some facts that took place in the 15-18 centuries.

The meaning of the proverb

“There is no truth at the feet” Is a playful invitation to sit down. Such an ironic argument entered Dahl’s vocabulary of sayings. Words are used as a stand-alone phrase and as part of others. For example:

  • Sit down, there is no truth in your feet.
  • Why are you standing, there is no truth at your feet!

It is difficult to answer such an argument, and the interlocutor is forced to sit down.

The idiom is pronounced in an ironic, playful tone. Linguists attribute it to colloquial speech. A proverb is often found in classical literature.

The origin of the proverb

According to the phraseological dictionary compiled by the linguist and researcher Stepanova M.I., there are three versions of the origin of the proverb. All of them take us to the 15-18 centuries, where the word “truth” meant “right”, “justice”.

  1. If a person was mired in debt and could not return it, he was taken to court. The most popular, but dubious way of collecting debts at that time was considered “right”. They took off the debtor’s shoes and beat him on the legs with a wooden stick – a batog. Often, despite severe pain, a person could not repay the debt. The reason for this was not stubbornness at all, but poverty. Thus, “pravezh” was meaningless.
  2. When something was stolen from a landowner, he expelled all the peasants and carried out his own “right” until the guilty of theft was betrayed. As a rule, the culprit had time to escape beforehand. Such torture led only to someone who innocent took responsibility for himself, wanting to save others from torment or unable to bear the pain.
  3. Anyone guilty of theft or inability to pay debts could escape punishment by flight. So his feet literally helped to avoid the “truth.”

In all cases, the phrase “There is no truth at the feet” was pronounced as a gloomy statement of facts. Fortunately, in the 18th century, “pravezh” was abolished and the expression acquired not a gloomy, but a humorous tone.


There are also alternative stable expressions in Russian:

  • Do not stand in vain.
  • It is not worth standing, it is better to sit down.
  • Honor and place.

Having learned the history of the appearance of the saying, we can only rejoice that in our time no one is looking for the truth in their feet.

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