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I came across a quote today, it is,

As a person it's what's on the inside that counts. It's what's on the outside that matters.

Please explain the quote for me. Are count and matter opposites?

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In fact in this case, count and matter are actually synonyms.

count verb

3 [no object] be significant:
it did not matter what the audience thought—it was the critics that counted

matter verb [no object]

1 [usually with negative or in questions] be important or significant:
it doesn’t matter what the guests wear

Both from ODO

Both mean “is significant”.

However, I suspect that your quote is wrong, and it should be

As a person it's what's on the inside that counts. What's on the outside doesn't matter.

That is, it's someone's heart and intentions which are important, not what they seem to be.

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  • Or - what is on the inside is worthwhile to the world, but what is on the outside is what people care about – mplungjan Mar 18 '13 at 14:02
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    @mplungjan It seems I'm just not cynical enough! – St John of the Cross Mar 18 '13 at 14:09
  • I do notice that in the construction It doesn't__ where/what/ which/ who/ how, only "matter" works, while count doesn't seem to. – Daniel Oct 3 '18 at 9:50
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In this example count and matter are synonyms. This is just a way of saying that they both count/matter, and lets the reader make his pick according to his principles :)

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"count" and "matter" are synonyms and mean "is significant.

Regarding this quote "count" would mean for me: - Based on your personality people can "count" on you or not. It´s significant for a relationship that people can "count" on you, and they usually "count" this invisible values like realiability, loyalty, etc. . If you are not there for somebody, this person might not be there for you in the long run (as it is the inside what counts)

"matter" would mean for me: Your apperance, body language, gestures, clothing is the matter, "subject", "substance", everyone will observe and judge. Everyone is superficial (some people are more tolerant). If somebody looks like a wreck her appearance could result in backbiting. Which person would you like to date: 1) a person who is beautiful for you 2) the ugly duck. If you choose 1): It´s the outside what matters for you.

If you choose 2): It´s the inside that counts for you.

But I believe that you are like me, so: As a person it's what's on the inside that counts and it's what's on the outside that matters for you.

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