Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, and weak minds discuss people.

is widely attributed to Socrates.

I should have thought that if Socrates said it, it would be readily available in his original Greek phrasing, which I can't find.

Is it truly attributable to Socrates? Did he say something similar-ish that was later transformed into the above? Or is just wildly misattributed?

  • It is important to note that Socrates itself leave no writings at all. All we know come from writings of others, mostly Plato(philosofer), Xenophon(historian) and Aristophanes(Playwright) "The Clouds" comedy. There are other minor sources too. It is also strongly believed that, at some degree, every writer display her own version of Socrates. Sep 6, 2019 at 12:38
  • Additionally i would like to add that even if this text is found within e.g. Plato sources as spoken by Socrates, it cannot be accredited as Socrates belief for sure as Socrates uses fake ignorance / irony and question-and-answer method at his lessons and dialogues. The flow of the entire conversation can more accurately indicate so. Sep 6, 2019 at 12:44
  • It's been a while since I had any Greek or history, but from what I remember Socrates was supposedly very interested in people, how they thought and what made them tick.
    – Shadur
    Sep 7, 2019 at 17:18

1 Answer 1


According to Quote Investigator, the basic concept expressed had been around since 1849, but the specific order and wording was first found in query sent to the New York Times in 1931:

“Great and Small Minds”

H. A. M.—Wanted, the correct quotation and origin of this expression: “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people.”

They found no evidence of Socrates having said something similar.

  • 3
    It's just one site in this answer that says otherwise. You might get a stronger argument by looking at different/other sources as well, for example different language quote sites / investigation sites. Sep 7, 2019 at 0:15

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