still waters run deep



Alternative formsEdit


Possibly inspired by Shakespeare, c. 1590, in Henry VI, Part 2, act 3, sc. 1:

Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep;
And in his simple show he harbours treason.


still waters run deep

  1. A person with a calm appearance has, or may have, considerable inner emotion, character, or intellect.
    • 1822, Catharine Maria Sedgwick, "A New-England Tale,"
      I always knew she was an artful jade; 'still waters run deep;' but she shall be exposed, the mask shall be stripped from the hypocrite.
    • 1885, Thomas Hardy, "A Mere Interlude,"
      But still waters run deep; and no crisis had come in the years of her early maidenhood to demonstrate what lay hidden within her, like metal in a mine.
    • 1903, Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh, ch. 58,
      Baxter had never known of any goings on in that quarter, but, bless you, still waters run deep, and these girls were all alike, one as bad as the other.
    • 2003, Alice Elliott Dark, "Book Review: Rainy Day Woman," New York Times, 8 Jun. (retrieved 9 July 2008),
      Isabel Pierce, the central character of Sweetwater, Roxana Robinson's fluid third novel, gives the appearance of being a thoughtful, reserved, quiet woman who won't rock any boats in her life. Yet she harbors passions; it might be said of her that still waters run deep.



  • Gregory Y. Titelman, Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, 1996, ISBN 0-679-44554-4, page 308.