Fact Check: Posts Claim Lewis Carroll Said, 'People With the Most Narrow of Minds Seem to Have the Widest of Mouths.' We Looked for the Source

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Getty Images


Lewis Carroll said, "Why is it that people with the most narrow of minds seem to have the widest of mouths?"


Rating: Misattributed
Rating: Misattributed

In a post dated May 26, 2024, the Facebook account Philosophical Rhythms shared an image featuring a quote attributed to Lewis Carroll, the author best known for the 1865 book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." The quote allegedly written by Carroll read:

Why is it that people with the narrowest of minds seem to have the widest of mouths?

The post had received more than 3,600 shares and 6,900 reactions at the time of this writing, and the image featuring the quote had popped up in posts on other social media sites, including X.

(Facebook user Philosophical Rhythms)

However, the quote does not appear in any of Carroll's published works, and we have rated this claim "Misattributed."

The earliest online appearance of the exact quote from the Facebook post appears to have been a Feb. 28, 2011, post on X by the quote-sharing account @TweetyQuote, which did not attribute the saying to any author.

(X user @TweetyQuote)

The first securely dated attribution of the quote to Carroll emerged around two years later, in a 2013 X post.

Since 2013, the quote including the Carroll attribution has appeared on a number of popular quotation meme websites, such as AZquotesMinimalist Quotes and Quotefancy, as well as in posts on social media outlets like Instagram and Reddit.

search on the Google Books database found no instances of the exact quote in any published book, whether by Carroll or another author.

A number of very similar quotes have circulated in print since the mid-20th century. Searches for the phrase "a narrow mind and a wide mouth" using Google Books and the Internet Archive's full-text search feature turned up dozens of instances of slight variations on the quote in magazines, joke books and quote anthologies. In all of these examples, the quote is either unattributed or attributed to "Anonymous."

A possible clue to the origin of the adage appeared in a 1958 issue of The International Mailer, a magazine formerly published by the International Mailer's Union. For the issue's "Thought for the Month," the editors chose the following unattributed quote:

A narrow mind and a wide mouth go together; narrow souled people are like narrow-necked bottles; the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out.

Although the first section of the quote, "A narrow mind and a wide mouth go together," cannot be attributed to any individual author, the rest is a paraphrase of a quote by the English poet Alexander Pope.

The original version of Pope's witticism was included in his "Thoughts on Various Subjects," which was originally published in 1727. Pope's wording reads as follows:

It is with narrow-souled people as with narrow-necked bottles; the less they have in them, the more noise they make in pouring it out.

Ultimately, there is no evidence linking any variation of these quotes about narrow minds to Carroll, despite the many social media posts incorrectly crediting the "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" author.

We've fact-checked other quotes attributed to famous figures, including whether Abraham Lincoln said, "It's not the years in your life that count; it's the life in your years."


Izzo, Jack. "Lincoln Said, 'It's Not the Years in Your Life That Count; It's the Life in Your Years'?" Snopes, 4 June 2024, https://www.snopes.com//fact-check/abraham-lincoln-life-in-your-years-quote/.

Now That Makes Sense! : Relating to People with Wit and Wisdom. Kirkland, WA : Wise Owl Books, 1993. Internet Archive, http://archive.org/details/nowthatmakessens0000unse.

Phillips, Bob. The Fun Joke Book. Irvine, Calif. : Harvest House Publishers, 1977. Internet Archive, http://archive.org/details/funjokebook00phil.

Pope, Alexander, and William Roscoe. The Works of Alexander Pope: Esq. with Notes and Illustrations by Himself and Others, to Which Are Added, a New Life of the Author, an Estimate of His Poetical Character and Writings, and Occasional Remarks. J. Rivington, 1824.

Vroman, Mary Elizabeth. "... and have Not Charity." Ladies' Home Journal, Sep. 1951, pp. 205–211. Internet Archivehttp://archive.org/details/ladieshomejourna68julwyet.