not suffer fools gladly

< Previous | Next >

audiolaik

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,

When preparing a lesson on adjectives of character, I found the following expression: "I don't suffer fools gladly". Thanks to a quick Google search, I learnt that it means "to have very little patience with people whom you think are foolish or have stupid ideas"(source). What is more, I found out that it has its origin in the Bible (source).

Is it a fixed phrase, the use of which is restricted only to stupidity?
Would it be possible to replace fools with any other words?

Thank you!
 
  • Franzi

    Senior Member
    (San Francisco) English
    Is it a fixed phrase, the use of which is restricted only to stupidity?
    Would it be possible to replace fools with any other words?
    It's fairly restricted.

    Sometimes, people replace 'fools' to make a joke. That is, they replace 'fools' with some word that doesn't actually have a negative meaning, like 'doctors' or 'FBI agents' or 'little sisters'. This implies that that category is equivalent to fools.

    That's not overly common though. It's safest to treat it as though it's completely fixed.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I agree with Franzi, audio: treat it as a set expression.

    It's not, actually, one I ever use: people seem to use "he doesn't suffer fools gladly" with something approaching approbation, but it's always seemed to me to be more of a character flaw ... :(
     

    audiolaik

    Senior Member
    Polish
    I agree with Franzi, audio: treat it as a set expression.

    It's not, actually, one I ever use: people seem to use "he doesn't suffer fools gladly" with something approaching approbation, but it's always seemed to me to be more of a character flaw ... :(
    Thank you, auntie, for your input!

    PS AudioJnr is smiling at you!:D
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I used to use that expression until someone pointed out to me that only a fool would suffer fools gladly:D
     

    dg_spain

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Hello:
    <Reply to deleted post deleted by moderator.>

    Audiolaik, I am not sure if this is relevant to your question, but you did ask about substituting "fools", and while I agree that this is a set expression I wanted to make sure that you knew that "suffer" was used in this sort of context quite a bit. It is not used much that way anymore, but it is a synonym for "bear" or "endure" (as appears in most dictionaries, or perhaps all).
     
    Last edited by a moderator:
    <Reply to deleted post deleted by moderator.>

    Back to topic: I'm not sure that "fools" is necessarily meant to be interpreted objectively. I've always interpreted the saying as implying impatience on the part of the person it refers to. I'm like that. I say "I don't suffer fools gladly, but I do suffer them", meaning that I modify my reactions and deliberately listen to what they are trying to say. It's hard sometimes!
     
    Last edited by a moderator:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top