Proverbs 12:23 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Proverbs 12:23, NIV: "The prudent keep their knowledge to themselves, but a fool's heart blurts out folly."

Proverbs 12:23, ESV: "A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly."

Proverbs 12:23, KJV: "A prudent man concealeth knowledge: but the heart of fools proclaimeth foolishness."

Proverbs 12:23, NASB: "A prudent person conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims foolishness."

Proverbs 12:23, NLT: "The wise don't make a show of their knowledge, but fools broadcast their foolishness."

Proverbs 12:23, CSB: "A shrewd person conceals knowledge, but a foolish heart publicizes stupidity."

What does Proverbs 12:23 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

This sentiment resembles Proverbs 17:28. The simple ability to keep control of one's tongue is a sign of wisdom. At the very least, it's better to say nothing than to babble out something foolish. Even if others might think poorly of the silent person, there is great advantage in being careful with one's words (Proverbs 10:19). An English proverb derived from these ideas says, "it's better to be silent and thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt."

The word translated "prudent" here also means "sensible." A person with good sense does not feel led to ramble about what he knows, or thinks he knows. It is wise to keep quiet about one's knowledge, waiting for the right moment to offer good advice. In that restraint, a person shows humility. In contrast, a fool is quick to speak, likely to spit out something inane rather than helpful. Such a person is vain and ignorant (Proverbs 12:16). He mistakes his foolish counsel as wisdom that he feels compelled to share with anyone within earshot (Proverbs 13:16).