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Catherine Ann Drinker (Janvier), Blessed are the Meek, 1871, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts

Meekness is an attribute of human nature and behavior. It has been defined several ways: righteous, humble, teachable, and patient under suffering, long suffering[1] willing to follow gospel teachings; an attribute of a true disciple.[2][3]

Meekness has been contrasted with humility as referring to behavior towards others, whereas humility refers to an attitude towards oneself[4] – meekness meaning restraining one's own power,[5] so as to allow room for others.[6]


  • The Israelite Apostle Paul gave an example of meek behavior when writing to Timothy: "The servant of the Lord must be gentle, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves." (2 Tim. 2:24–25)
  • Sir Thomas Browne explained: "Meekness takes injuries like pills, not chewing, but swallowing them down." This indicates that meekness allows a person to overlook or forgive perceived insults or offenses.[7]
  • The meek feature in the Beatitudes, and were linked thereby to the classical virtue of magnanimity by Aquinas.[8]


  • Beethoven rejected meekness and equality in favor of cultural elitism: “Power is the moral principle of those who excel others”.[9]
  • Nietzsche rejected Christian meekness as part of a parasitic revolt by the low against the lofty, the manly, and the high.[10]

Other traditions[edit]

  • Buddhism, like Christianity, strongly values meekness[11] – the Buddha himself (in an earlier life) featuring as the 'Preacher of Meekness' who patiently had his limbs lopped off by a jealous king without complaining.[12]
  • Taoism valorized the qualities of submission and non-contention.[13]
  • Book of Numbers chapter 12 verse 3: Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.
  • In Islam, faqr, sometimes translated as "poverty", is one of the central attitudes in a Faqeer. It was also one of the attributes of the Prophet. He said "faqr is my pride". In a spiritual sense, faqr is defined as the absence of desire for wealth, recognition or for the blessings of the otherworld. One of the aspects of one who has embodied the true essence of faqr, is that the mystic will never ask anything of anyone else.[14] The reason for this is for one to ask someone else for anything they would be relying on a created being. To receive something from that same being would produce gratitude in the heart which would be geared toward the giver, not towards God.[15]

Animal analogues[edit]

  • The classical Greek word used to translate meekness was that for a horse that had been tamed and bridled.[16]
  • The buffalo was to the Buddhists a lesson in meekness.[17]

Literary examples[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Free Dictionary, Meekness
  2. ^ Guide to the Scriptures, meekness
  3. ^ Neal A. Maxwell, Meekness -- A Dimension of True Discipleship, 1982
  4. ^ E. A. Cochran, Receptive Human Virtues (2011) p. 82
  5. ^ Matthew (1806). A Discourse Concerning Meekness. Hilliard
  6. ^ K. D. Bassett, Doctrinal Insight to the Book of Mormon (2008) p. 197
  7. ^ The Free Dictionary, Usages of meekness
  8. ^ C. S. Titus, Resilience and the Virtue of Fortitude (2006) p. 320
  9. ^ Quoted in Maynard Solomon, Beethoven Essays (1988) p. 204
  10. ^ W. Kaufman ed., The Portable Nietzsche (1987) p. 626-30
  11. ^ J. B. Carman, Majesty and Meekness (1994) p. 124
  12. ^ D. Schlinghoff, Studies in the Ajanta Paintings (1987) p. 219
  13. ^ D. C. Lau ed., Lao Tzu (1963) p. 25-9
  14. ^ Annemarie Schimmel (2011) [1975]. Mystical Dimensions of Islam (reprint)|format= requires |url= (help). University of North Carolina Press. p. 121. ISBN 978-0-8078-9976-2.
  15. ^ Khadim Sultan-ul-Faqr, Mohammad Najib-ur-Rehman (2015). Sultan Bahoo: The Life and Teachings, page 145. Sultan-ul-Faqr Publications, Lahore. ISBN 978-969-9795-18-3.
  16. ^ J. K. Bergland, The Journeys of Robert Williams ( 2010) p. 53
  17. ^ D. Schlinghoff, Studies in the Ajanta Paintings (1987) p. 144
  18. ^ H. Bloom, Thomas Hardy (2010) p. 84
  19. ^ A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance (1991) p. 141