The Dicts of Cato

Ne flit ðu wið anwilne monn ne wið oferspræcne. Manegum menn is forgifen ðæt he spræcan mæg ond swiðe feawum ðæt he seo gescead wis.

Wite ðæs maran ðanc ðe ðu hæbbe ðonne ðæs þe ðe monn gehate, ne hopa þu to swiðe to ðam þe mon gehate. Ðær lytel gehaten bið þær bið lytel alogen.

Select any Old English word to view its gloss


Do not argue against a one-willed person nor against an overtalkative [person]. Many men are given [the ability] that he may speak and very few that he is discreet.

Feel more thankful of that which you have than that which men promise you; nor hope too much for that which a man promises. Where little is promised, there is little lying.


While 'wið' looks like the modern 'with', it is generally more correct to translate it as 'against'.

This is not the female pronoun 'seo' but an unusual spelling of 'sie'.

Wite can mean 'punishment' when used as a noun, but here it is a conjugation of 'witan - to feel / be aware of'.

Wis here does not mean 'wise' but rather 'a manner'.

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