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 June 8, Alice Elliott Dark, "Book Review: Rainy Day Woman," New York Times (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.


See alsoEdit


  • Gregory Y. Titelman, Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, 1996, →ISBN, page 308.