The Meaning of Ignorance is Bliss: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of ignorance is bliss? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word ignorance is bliss, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the phrase ignorance is bliss mean?

According to Your Dictionary and other sources like the American Heritage Dictionary of the English language, the idiom ignorance is bliss means that sometimes it is better to not know the truth because you would be horrified at the reality of a situation. It can mean that sometimes, not knowing the whole story is a blessing in disguise. The discovery of the truth of any situation can be scary. While this universal truth does not mean that wisdom is bad, it does assert that it is blissful. Imagine being in heaven, without a care in the world and in sheer bliss or utter bliss, or in a hot bath, relaxed in a state of complete happiness and eternal bliss. This is a common association. Ignorance is a word that means a lack of comprehension. You might also hear this individual word in the form of a catchy cliche on a given subject, like “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” You might see more idioms like this in the Bible in the Book of Proverbs, or elsewhere. 

What is the origin of ignorance is bliss?

While the sentiment of the phrase has been around since ancient times, such as from Greek playwright Sophocles and the scholar Erasmus in the 16th century, the actual wording was first used by eighteenth-century English poet Thomas Gray. According to Phrases UK, the term ignorance is bliss was first used in the beautiful poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College” in 1742 written by Thomas Gray. Thomas Gray’s poem reads as follows:

Yet ah! Why should they know their fate?

Since sorrow never comes too late,

And happiness too swiftly flies.

Thought would destroy their paradise.

No more; where ignorance is bliss,

‘Tis folly to be wise.

Here, English poet Gray unintentionally created a proverb. While he did not mean that it is better to be ignorant than wise at all times, he means that it is better to be blissfully ignorant of your fate or future than to worry about what is to come. Some of this information comes from the Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson. According to Word Histories, this phrase was also used in the following poems and publications. First, it was used in May 1765 in “An Epistle to a Friend, from St Andrew’s”:

’Twas peace, ’twas ease, ’twas love, ’twas happiness;

Where is that bliss, that happiness refin’d,

That chain’d, inchanted, rivetted, the mind?

As fair the narciss in the garden blows,

As smooth the stream of silver Eden flows,

As sweet the thrush repeats her tender tale,

As soft the zephyr travels o’er the vale,

As bright the hallow’d hand of young-ey’d Spring,

The lucid dewdrops o’er the fields does fling;

Yet peace, yet bliss, yet love, is wanting here;

And discontent still drops th’ unwilling tear.

Oh! can it be that ignorance is bliss?

Next, it was used in a poem entitled “The Social Fire” from the Thursday 23rd March 1786 The British Chronicle.

Oh! grant kind Heav’n a state like this,

Where simple ignorance is bliss,

’Tis all that I require;

Then, then—to share the joys of life,

I’d seek a kind indulgent wife,

And bless my Social Fire.

Finally, this last early example comes from the English author and translator Anne Plumptre’s 1798 novel Volume III of The Rector’s Son:

“Villainy, too prosperous villainy, has led them into a fatal delusion; nor are they less deserving of compassion than myself!—but they are less miserable, for they know not the occasion they have for remorse;—to them, ignorance is bliss; to me, knowledge is distraction!”

What are synonyms and antonyms of ignorance is bliss?


  •  blissfully ignorant
  •  ignorance is pleasure
  •  lack of knowledge results in happiness
  •  ignorance is good
  •  happiness in ignorance
  •  unawareness of bad things
  •  familiarity breeds contempt
  •  ignorance is delight
  •  blissful ignorance
  •  happy to stay in the dark
  •  ignorance is happiness
  •  live in the unknown
  •  lack of knowledge
  •  in blissful unawareness
  •  happy and oblivious
  •  ignorant men
  •  being unaware of bad things
  •  what you don’t know can’t hurt you
  •  he that knows nothing doubts nothing
  •  be happily unaware of the fact
  •  out of sight out of mind
  •  it’s comfortable not to know certain things
  •  ignorance is a blessing
  •  ignorant people
  •  lack of knowledge of unpleasant fact
  •  in blissful ignorance


  •  know a good deal
  •  be familiar with
  •  awareness is the key
  •  information is power
  •  have cognizance of something
  •  have personal knowledge of something
  •  knowledge is power
  •  scientia potestas est
  •  scientia est potentia
  •  scientia potentia est
  •  be aware that

How can ignorance is bliss be used in a sentence?

After only two months of marriage, the London, England couple was in a scene of such domestic bliss. However, the wife did not know her husband had been cheating on her for years every time he went to the Bahamas. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.

Her work phone may have been ringing off the hook, but  she refused to answer on her day off. Reece had a cold pool on a hot day in New York, and determined that ignorance was bliss. The general public could wait – nothing was such sensitive material that it couldn’t wait, and her assistant could do a little digging.

Overall, the phrase ignorance is bliss means that it is better not to know about some things. The origin of the phrase was first used in the closing lines of Thomas Gray’s famous poem “Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College.” This is when the precise wording of the cliché was used, though similar phrases were used in the early sixteenth century.


  1. Ignorance is bliss – phrase meaning and origin | Phrases UK 
  2. ‘ignorance is bliss’: meaning and origin | Word Histories 
  3. Examples of Ignorance Is Bliss | Your Dictionary  
  4. Ignorance is Bliss | Power Thesaurus