What Does Few Words and Many Deeds Mean?

Few Words and Many Deeds Meaning

Definition: What you do is more important than what you say.

Origin of Few Words and Many Deeds

This expression is part of a quote from Saint Vincent Pallotti, who lived from the years 1795 to 1850. The full quote is,

  • “Remember that the Christian life is one of action; not of speech and daydreams. Let there be few words and many deeds, and let them be done well.”

Pallotti wanted to say that it is not good enough to talk about being a good Christian. Christians must actually do good deeds. Talking about those good deeds was unimportant.

Ecclesiastes 5:2 from the Bible may have influenced Saint Vincent. This passage from the Bible says,

  • Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few.

A similar expression is action speaks louder than words. Because of the Catholic connection to the idiom few words and many deeds, this expression often appears in a Christian context, whereas action speaks louder than words can appear in any context.

Examples of Few words and Many Deeds

a wise man speaks few wordsIn this example, two co-workers are talking about some of the members of the church to which they both belong.

Rodrigo: How do you like the new priest?

Alisha: I know that he only just started, but he seems great.

Rodrigo: He doesn’t talk that much. His sermons are quite short.

Alisha: I don’t mind that. He is a man of few words and many deeds. I think that is very honorable.

Rodrigo: I suppose you’re right.

man of few words quoteIn the example below, two siblings are discussing the final project that they must complete for their religion class at school.

Luis: Do you know what you are going to do for the final project, the essay or the volunteer service?

Stephanie: I’m not sure. The essay will be short, but the volunteering might be easier, and more fun.

Luis: I think I’ll volunteer. Our teacher is always talking about how we should remember the concept of few words and many deeds. I think I’ll get a better grade if I do something for the final project rather than just write about something.

Stephanie: That’s a good idea.

More Examples

This example below is from an obituary.

  • Susan was a strong and tireless woman of few words and many deeds. –OC Register

This excerpt is about a man who sticks his used yogurt lids on the same store window every day. This news article is using the expression humorously.

  • He’s a man of few words and many deeds. For the past month he’s been sticking the lids of Meadow Fresh yoghurt which he has presumably just eaten to the window of the Gordon Harris art supplies store on Symonds Street, central Auckland. –Stuff


The phrase few words and many deeds is another way to say that actions mean more than words.