can’t judge a book by its cover

can’t (or don’t) judge a book by its cover


  • outward appearance cannot be an indicator of someone or something’s value or worth
  • you cannot know what someone or something is like just by looking the person or thing’s appearance
  • the quality or character of  someone or something cannot be judged just by looking at them
  • an opinion of someone or something cannot be formed solely by seeing what’s on the surface

Example Sentences

  1. The candidate did not look very intelligent, but you can’t judge a book by its cover.
  2. The hotel looked attractive from outside, but the rooms were damp and not well maintained. You can’t judge a book by its cover!
  3. Do not form opinions of a persons character by looking at his appearance. You can’t judge a book by its cover.
  4. At first we did not want to go into the restaurant as it looked small and cramped; but the food was delicious – we realized that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
  5. The car was small and looked unsuited for a long trip, but packed a lot of power and was very solid. You can’t judge a book by its cover.
  6. That man may look very small and insignificant, but don’t judge a book by its cover – he’s a very powerful man in his circle.


In George Eliot’s The Mill on the Floss (1860), Mr Tulliver uses the phrase in discussing Daniel Defoe’s The History of the Devil.

‘The History of the Devil’ by Daniel Defoe; not quite the right book for a little girl,” said Mr. Riley, “How came it among your books, Tulliver?”
Maggie looked hurt and discouraged, while her father said, “Why, it’s one o’ the books I bought at Partridge’s sale. They was all bound alike, it’s a good binding, you see, and I thought they’d be all good books. There’s Jeremy Taylor’s ‘Holy Living and Dying’ among ’em ; I read in it often of a Sunday.” (Mr. Tulliver felt somehow a familiarity with that great writer because his name was Jeremy); “and there ‘s a lot more of ’em, sermons mostly, I think ; but they ‘ve all got the same covers, and I thought they were all o’ one sample, as you may say. But it seems one mustn’t judge by th’ outside. This is a puzzlin’ world.

The preceding version was then publicised by the 1946 murder mystery novel by Edwin Rolfe [de] and Lester Fuller, Murder in the Glass Room, in the form of “You can never tell a book by its cover.”

C 21 Thoughts

21 Thoughts

This website is really useful for homework and things like that.

- Homework January 9, 2019

Can you give a real life example of this phrase?

- •_• August 29, 2018

Can you please give us more examples to understand any phrase.

- Hajra July 31, 2018

Can you make it in a paragraph?

- A Girl May 18, 2018

Write on small for children

- Anonymous April 19, 2018

Very useful website and make me to complete my work efficiently

- Sashi Priya March 14, 2018

Very useful website

- Sashi priya March 14, 2018

Add other ways to say it please.

- Alex March 1, 2018

But what do you call the person that does this?

- Paula February 22, 2018

This web site is very useful to siding children so easily

- Sachin February 9, 2018

Thanks a lot for the wonderful explanation.

- Aaira February 2, 2018

“Origin: This phrase has been in use since the mid 1800s.”
Cao Cao of Chinese Three Kingdoms used this phrases since 2th century.

- Sly Halsningar January 25, 2018

“Please answer in less than a minute.” Is it a theme or a quote?

- Dank December 14, 2017

Thanks for giving this wonderful service

- Anonymous December 8, 2017

Still more examples please

- Anonymous November 12, 2017

It is very useful and everything written here is fully correct ♡

- Chhavi November 5, 2017

Thanks for this site this was so useful!

- Anonymous November 4, 2017

Supper site thanks for the help

- Sneha October 15, 2017

Thank you very much for your valuable service.

- Muniasamy Samy September 19, 2017

This website is very useful.

- IDK September 8, 2017

May be so many examples are helpful to understand it more effectively.

- Divya July 20, 2017

Add your thoughts

Idiom of the Day

high up

Meaning: to have an important standing in society

Example: With the way he barked orders at the workers, everyone got the impression that he is high up in the company. Read on


Keep in Touch

Copyrights © 2022 - The Idioms - All Rights Reserved.
Copy Link