What does The more you know mean?

Alex: Did you know a flock of crows is known as murder?
Jim: No. The more you know.

4 Answers 4


It was (is?) a television slogan from American broadcaster NBC. They show an educational announcement, and end it with the NBC logo and the words "the more you know".

It became a meme for when someone says something educational, typically used as a sarcastic response when someone mentions a fact that the other person considers trivial or unimportant.

  • 2
    UpV but there is no useless information. From the movie A Fistful of Dollars: "A man's life in these parts often depends on a mere scrap of information." Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 18:52
  • @WeatherVane - I agree that "trivial" would be a better descriptor than "totally useless".
    – J.R.
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 19:03
  • TVTropes (forgive me) mentions NBC's "The More You Know" PSAs in the past tense, so "was" is appropriate. Now you know. And Knowing Is Half the Battle Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 21:06
  • Oops, I was wrong. Wikipedia supports the present tense. Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 21:19

The phrase is so unclear that it's anyone's guess what someone means by it, or whether he means much at all. Completing the sentence is just guesswork.

Based on PMV's answer, I would guess that the television spots intend something in praise of learning, something like "The more you know, the better-off you are," or perhaps "The more you know, the more you want to know."

It is certainly possible that the writers for those television spots, or anyone else using the expression, had in mind the maxim “The more you know, the more you know you don't know.” One finds these word attributed to Aristotle all over the web (here, and here, and here, for example), and while the authenticity of this attribution is not clear, it still suggests that someone might think of those words as a familiar saying. Similar words are attributed to David T. Freeman: “The more you know, the more you realize how much you don’t know — the less you know, the more you think you know.”

Someone using the words in conversation (as in your example with Alex and Jim) without sarcasm might mean something like that, or maybe just something like "Oh, I didn't know that."

If someone intend a sarcastic remark, that would reverse the meaning. The conclusion would still be the same words, but intended sarcastically to convey that the information did not actually make the listener better-off.


This has the same meaning as:

The more you know, the more you'll understand.

which may be more understandable.

It means that Jim just learned something new and increased his knowledge.
Now he knows more than he did before.

Writing it as:

The more you know.

emphasizes the knowledge learned rather than the person(s) learning it.

More recently it has become a catch-phrase for advertising how knowledgeable some company is.


It seems to me this curious phrase--which sounds at once self-sufficient and unfinished--implies the following phrase to formally finish it: the more insight you have into the nature of things. The problem stems in that the inclusiveness of the original phrase makes it possible for speakers of our language to take it to mean largely different things. Someone with influence in our language could help to standardize the meaning of the phrase.

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