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Civility Costs Nothing Essay Help

Civility Costs Nothing Meaning

Definition: Being courteous or kind to someone never hurt anyone.

The proverb civility costs nothing means that being polite or kind does not cost a thing. The word cost does not typically refer to a monetary value. Rather, it means that being polite to someone does not require anyone to expend a great amount of effort.

It is just as easy to be nice and courteous as it is to be mean and discourteous.

Origin of Civility Costs Nothing

It is speculated that this proverb was first used in the 18th century, although there is little information on its first use in print. A similar proverb derives from 15th century French:

  • Courteous words cost little and are worth much.

A few variations of this phrase are,

  • Civility costs nothing, but buys everything.
  • Politeness costs nothing.
  • Courtesy costs nothing.

The full proverb means that, while it does not take much effort, being nice or courteous toward someone can have exponential rewards.

Examples of Civility Costs Nothing

This sample conversation between a young boy and his father demonstrates the correct use of this proverb in context.

Emmett: I’m going to tell my teacher that she’s mean and ugly.

Warren: Don’t do that, son. No matter what you think of someone, you should always be polite to him or her. Civility costs nothing. If you’re rude to her, she might give you detention.

Warren is trying to teach his son that it is always better to be polite toward someone, even if he doesn’t like the person. Voicing how he really feels could get him in trouble. On the other hand, civility costs nothing and being civil certainly won’t get him in trouble with his teacher.

More Examples

  • Seventy-seven years ago, I was introduced to this delightful philosophy by my father, who had the slogan “Civility Costs Nothing” crudely painted on his lunch box. – LA Times


The English proverb civility costs nothing means that it does not take a lot of effort to be kind or courteous to someone.

“A Swedish minister having assembled the chiefs of the Susquehanna Indians, made a sermon to them, acquainting them with the principal historical facts on which our religion is founded — such as the fall of our first parents by eating an apple, the coming of Christ to repair the mischief, his miracles and suffering, etc. When he had finished an Indian orator stood up to thank him.

‘What you have told us,’ says he, ‘is all very good. It is indeed bad to eat apples. It is better to make them all into cider. We are much obliged by your kindness in coming so far to tell us those things which you have heard from your mothers. In return, I will tell you some of those we have heard from ours.

‘In the beginning, our fathers had only the flesh of animals to subsist on, and if their hunting was unsuccessful they were starving. Two of our young hunters, having killed a deer, made a fire in the woods to boil some parts of it. When they were about to satisfy their hunger, they beheld a beautiful young woman descend from the clouds and seat herself on that hill which you see yonder among the Blue Mountains.

‘They said to each other, “It is a spirit that perhaps has smelt our broiling venison and wishes to eat of it; let us offer some to her.” They presented her with the tongue; she was pleased with the taste of it and said: “Your kindness shall be rewarded; come to this place after thirteen moons, and you will find something that will be of great benefit in nourishing you and your children to the latest generations.” They did so, and to their surprise found plants they had never seen before, but which from that ancient time have been constantly cultivated among us to our great advantage. Where her right hand had touched the ground they found maize; where her left had touched it they found kidney-beans; and where her backside had sat on it they found tobacco.’

The good missionary, disgusted with this idle tale, said: ‘What I delivered to you were sacred truths; but what you tell me is mere fable, fiction, and falsehood.’

The Indian, offended, replied: ‘My brother, it seems your friends have not done you justice in your education; they have not well instructed you in the rules of common civility. You saw that we, who understand and practise those rules, believed all your stories; why do you refuse to believe ours?”
― Benjamin Franklin, Remarks Concerning the Savages


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