There is a saying in Malayalam which can be roughly translated as "In the land where no one has a nose, the broken-nosed one is the king". Is there a way to express the same sentiment in English?

  • Chinese version: 山中无老虎,猴子称大王。
    – Terry Li
    Jan 23, 2013 at 20:15

1 Answer 1


The customary saying is In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, which was apparently coined by Erasmus.

  • thanks for the quick answer and for leading me to other phrases coined by this Erasmus dude ... Jan 23, 2013 at 12:48
  • is there any word or adjective to describe such a person ? Jan 23, 2013 at 12:49
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    There's a phrase - a big fish in a small pond. Jan 23, 2013 at 14:31
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    It would not surprise me if Erasmus were in fact the origin of the Malayalam saying.
    – MetaEd
    Jan 23, 2013 at 15:02
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    I wonder what it is about Malayalam speakers that makes them think powers of olfactory discrimination are more relevant to social advancement than the ability to see. Is it maybe that at least the broken-nosed man can still sniff out corruption in "high" places? Jan 23, 2013 at 15:08

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