There is a Polish saying

Im pies mniej szczeka, tym bardziej gryzie.

Literally translated:

The less dogs barks, the more it bites

which means that not those people are the most dangerous, that scream load, but those, who remain silence (or, you shouldn't be afraid of someone who is just screaming).

What is the English equivalent of that saying?

  • You seemed to have asked two questions in one here. One phrase for people who are quiet but dangerous. And, one phrase for people who are very loud but not dangerous.
    – Mohit
    Jan 29, 2013 at 7:43
  • 2
    But the original phrase means both, at least AFAIK Jan 29, 2013 at 9:12
  • Similar, but not identical: "Still waters run deep." Jan 29, 2013 at 13:56
  • In German there is the saying: Hunde die bellen, beißen nicht (Barking dogs don't bite)
    – knut
    Jan 29, 2013 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


It's always the quiet ones


Beware the quiet ones


In English, we sometimes say:

His bark is worse than his bite.

or sometimes this shortened form:

all bark, no bite

but that only covers the second half of the Polish saying – that the loud ones aren't very dangerous. The part about the quiet ones being more dangerous is not usually inferred in English.

To describe quiet but dangerous, you could use the metaphor like a lion about to pounce (or any other predator that stalks its prey). It's not necessarily an often-quoted saying, but it is an often-used metaphor. It goes back at least as far as the Old Testament:

He lies in wait like a lion in cover; he lies in wait to catch the helpless (Psalms 10:9)

Like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in hiding, he dragged me from the path and mangled me and left me without help. (Lamentations 3:10-11)

but is still used today, such as this blogger used as a title:

Like A Lion Ready To Pounce

or this one:

Shi'ah Is Like A Lion That Is Ready To Pounce

or this one:

Narendra Modi: India’s lion is about to pounce to MP

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