We have all heard or used the saying “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” when referring to someone or something that we may have preconceived notions about. Even if we know nothing about a person; the way they look, talk or dress may give us an idea of what they are like as a person. We could be making false assumptions that are not fair to the person we are directing our judgement towards; but is it always wrong to judge a book by its cover? Are our outsides a reflection of our inner selves? Well; that complex question cannot be answered here, but we can at least find out where this common saying came from.
The saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” is not nearly as old as it may seem. It dates back to 1944 in the journal American Speech:
“you can’t judge a book by its binding.”;
This term is not exactly what we are looking for but essentially means the same thing.
Two years later, in 1946, a more exact reference to the saying we are familiar with appears in the novel Murder in the Glass Room by Edwin Rolfe and Lester Fuller:
“you can never tell a book by its cover.”
Some believe that this saying can be traced back to ancient Victorians who would hide a book inside a bible to make people believe they were godly. All of these origins are plausible and unlike many other sayings in the English language, this saying maintained its original intent.