The Pen is Mightier than the Sword – Proverb Meaning and Expansion of idea


The proverb ‘Pen is mightier than the sword’ stresses on the fact that written communication is more effective than physical strength. The pen in the proverb most likely refers to administrative power and the power of the press which are obviously more powerful and effective than violence or revolt.

Meaning that an administrative order or an independent press can effectively nip in the bud a physical revolt, however strong it may be.

Expansion of idea

The proverb states that a form of written communication is more powerful than physical prowess. Many revolts in history have been instigated by an effectively written speech or through postings in newspapers. Words are more worthy than the sword. It means that the impact written words has on the mind and soul of the reader, is way more than any physical activity. Words impact deep and are more effective.

Another reference to the pen is the administrative power bestowed on the authorities. A written order from someone in power is enough to apprehend hundreds or even thousands of protesters, curbing a revolt successfully.

Short Stories on ‘The Pen is Mightier than the Sword’

A good story based on the proverb ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ is the best way to understand the true meaning and worth of the proverb. I am writing below a couple of stories on the proverb for you to better understand its meaning.

Short Story 1

One in a school, there studied two brothers named Ram and Shyam. Ram was studious and disciplined and spends most of his time writing notes of studying. Shyam on the other hand had a dominating personality and liked to bully around other kids at school or in the colony. Shyam thought that his persuasive and dominant personality will always keep him in a more powerful position than others. Perhaps, he had no idea about the truth.

The time passed and the brothers grew up. Many things changed except their behaviors. Ram was studying day and night for the administrative services exam while Shyam was a famous bully of the college and was happy how things were moving.

Due to his hard work, Ram finally cleared the Civil Services exam and got posted as the Superintendent of Police in a town. Shyam, on the other hand, was clueless about his life when he moved out of college. He had contested a students’ union election in college but failed with a huge margin.

The castle of false strength that he had built throughout his life was crumbling before his eyes. He started repenting that he didn’t give much credence to studies and exams; otherwise, things would have been quite different. At last, looking at Ram, Shyam realized that the pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

Short Story 2

Sneha was a journalist by profession. She liked to write the truth come what may. She had exposed many politicians and their nexus with mafias. But every brave deed faces oppression at first, so did Sneha. There was a big politician who had a rebuke for Sneha because she had exposed some of his ill deeds.

He was hell bend on spoiling her career and was influencing media houses for not hiring Sneha. Sneha was aware of this but had an unwavering belief in her principles. One day she received a letter from her office that her services are no more required and she was asked to move out, giving her one month notice period. She probably knew who was behind all this. Sneha refused to be a victim and started writing about her ill-treatment, in other newspapers, as a guest writer.

Within a couple of months, the words spread like a fire. Now Sneha had millions of supporters throughout the country. Removing her without a substantial reason became impossible for her bosses. Finally, they send a written apology to her and reinstated her in the organization.

The politician on the other hand was exposed further and faced public outrage and legal action. When everything settled down, Sneha wrote an article titled ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’; perhaps, inspired by her past experiences.


A wisely written example on a proverb is the best way to understand its meaning. I am giving below some good examples on the proverb – ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’, for you to read and understand the real-time use of the proverb.

“In a democracy, the true power lies with administrators and ministers – obviously, pen is mightier than the sword.”

“An independent press can shake up the whole nation at a time, as no else power can do. It is rightly said that pen is mightier than the sword.”

“The journalist was definite in his resolve of exposing the corruption in the government by writing regular articles other than going face to face. Perhaps, he believed that the pen is mightier than the sword.”

“Great Indian freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, etc., wrote a number of articles for newspapers, while in prison. Their writings were successful in inspiring millions of Indians to take the plunge into the freedom fight. This wouldn’t have been possible by any amount of physical labor. Undoubtedly, the pen is mightier than the sword.”

“The future wars would be fought more on the basis of economical sanctions and other business restrictions than with arms and ammunitions. This is a perfect example of the pen is mightier than the sword.”


The phrase was first penned by the English author Edward Bulwer Lytton in the year 1839. Edward had written it for one of his plays titled ‘Richelieu’ or the conspiracy. The play was based on the life of a French Statesman ‘Cardinal Richelieu’.

Dialogues are spoken by Cardinal in the Act II of the play mention the proverb:

“True, This!-

Beneath the rule of men entirely great

The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold

The arch enchanters-wand! – itself is nothing! –

But taking sorcery from the master-hand

To paralyse the Caesars, and to strike

The loud earth breathless! – Take away the sword –

States can be saved without it!”

The line ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ became immensely popular and is widely used even today.


The proverb let us understand the true worth of life and wherein the real power lies. True power lies in knowledge and writing skill. If you have knowledge and vision you can write to influence thousands or may be millions at a time. No power, no sword, no ammunition can do that for you.

The phrase teaches us to not run after physical strength but rather fine-tune our writing skills because it is in what we write that the real power lays. It also inspires the students to study their way to an influential position in the public domain, as that of an administrative officer or parliamentarian, etc. The true power of a man is the power of the pen or his signature bestowed on him by the state. This is indeed a true and greatest power a man can have.