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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 behaviour towards others, where humbleness 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]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Mormonism[edit]

  • A meek behavior is presented as being opposite to "the natural man" (i.e. one who acts strictly according to desires of the body): 'Put off the natural man and become meek.' (Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:19), and in 3 Nephi 12:5 when Jesus Christ appears to the people of ancient america after his Ascension to Heaven and teaches them the beatitudes.


  • 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 valued meekness[11] - the Buddha himself (in an earlier life) featuring as the 'Preacher of Meekness' who patiently had his limbs lopped off without complaining by a jealous king.[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.

Animal analogues[edit]

  • The classical Greek word used to translate meekness was that for a horse that had been tamed and bridled.[14]
  • The buffalo was to the Buddhists a lesson in meekness.[15]

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. ^ J. K. Bergland, The Journeys of Robert Williams ( 2010) p. 53
  15. ^ D. Schlinghoff, Studies in the Ajanta Paintings (1987) p. 144
  16. ^ H. Bloom, Thomas Hardy (2010) p. 84
  17. ^ A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance (1991) p. 141