What does the idiom "You can\'t judge a book by its cover" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase You can\'t judge a book by its cover, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression You can\'t judge a book by its cover used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "You can\'t judge a book by its cover"


The idiom “You can’t judge a book by its cover” is used to express the idea that one should not judge something solely based on its appearance. It is generally accepted that it is better to examine something further before deciding one's opinion. This idiom is often used in the context of not judging people based solely on their outward appearance. This is closely related to the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” which emphasizes that it is not possible to make accurate judgements based on the cover, and it is necessary to look deeper to get a true understanding of something.


This idiom is believed to have originated in the late 19th century, though its exact origins are uncertain. The earliest known use of the phrase is from the 1873 novel “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, though it is possible that it may have been in use prior to this. The phrase has since been used in numerous films, books and other media, and has become a widely recognized expression.


This idiom is commonly used in everyday speech and is often used when someone is trying to make a point about not making assumptions based on outward appearances. It is a valuable lesson to remember in life and one that can be applied in many different situations. This idiom can also be used figuratively in a variety of contexts and can have different connotations depending on the context in which it is used. For example, it can be used to express the idea of not making assumptions about someone’s ability or character based on their age, gender, race, or other factors.

Example Sentences

  • “You can’t judge a book by its cover. Just because someone looks different from you, doesn’t mean they’re any less worthy of respect.”
  • “Don’t be too quick to judge people. You can’t judge a book by its cover, so you never know what might be hiding beneath the surface.”
  • “You should

The meanings of the words in the "You can\'t judge a book by its cover" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.


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