‘Out of sight out of mind’ – Origin, Meaning, Expansion, Importance

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‘Out of sight out of mind’ – Origin, Meaning, Expansion, Importance

Origin of the proverb.

‘Out of sight out of mind’ is a proverb that has existed since at least the medieval times. It was first committed to print in the works of John Heywood in the mid sixteenth century. Heywood was a collector of proverbs, and this is one of the proverbs that he collected.

Meaning of the proverb.

This proverb means that ‘when we do not see something or someone for a while, we tend to forget about them or it.’ Or, at least, this person or thing enters our thoughts less often than when they are always near us.

The proverb is often taken to mean that people care most about the things and people that constitute their immediate environment. Thus, it suggests that people are more likely to form strong attachments to people they see frequently.

This proverb suggests a strong link between seeing something and thinking about it.

Expansion of this idea.

There are some other proverbs that have an opposite meaning to ‘out of sight out of mind’. One such proverb is ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, which suggests that we actually think about and feel attached to people more the less that we see of them. Which proverb do you think is the most accurate when it comes to depicting human nature? Or perhaps each can be applied to different circumstances.

Often, the proverb is used as a piece of advice, to encourage people to stay away from a certain person or thing that is upsetting them.

If the person stays away for long enough, this proverb suggests, eventually they will forget about whatever it was that was making them feel upset.

Importance of the proverb.

1. Removing negative thoughts: If something is upsetting us, this proverb suggests a way to get rid of those negative thoughts: all we need to do is to remove ourselves from the presence of the upsetting thing.

2. Understanding human nature: The proverb is often an accurate depiction of how humans form attachments.

3. Motivating us to keep friendships strong: If a friend or loved one has not gotten in contact with us recently, this could be due to the principle of ‘out of sight out of mind’. All we need to do to rekindle that friendship is simply to arrange to meet up!

4. Bringing truth into the open: Sometimes people use the principle of ‘out of sight out of mind’ to bad ends. For instance, perhaps they try and hide negative things they have done from view so that others will not think about them. Remembering this proverb is useful if we want to bring the truth to light.

5. Moving on: When we want to move on after a relationship, it is a good idea to spend a little time apart so that we can start thinking about new things! This proverb encapsulates why that is!

6. Living in the moment: This proverb is all about spending quality time with people so that we stay in each other’s minds.

7. Getting into good habits: The proverb can be used to remind ourselves to fill our sight (and thus our minds) with good and beautiful things – inspirational quotations, improving literature, good people and so on.


‘Out of sight out of mind’s is a proverb that can cause us to scrutinize our attachments and ensure that they are as strong and as healthy as possible.

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