If the Shoe Fits, Wear It – Meaning and Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

If the shoe fits, wear it means that if a description or criticism applies to someone, they should accept or deal with it. If someone tells you an undeniably true trait about yourself, even if it’s not the most flattering, you should own up to it.

Idioms like this one are phrases where the words together have a different meaning than their individual definitions. They have given our language rich and vivid ways to communicate our thoughts.

This article overviews the meaning and origin of this idiom while sharing a few sentence examples showing how to use it. So, keep reading to learn more.

If the Shoe Fits Idiom Meaning

If the Shoe Fits Wear It – Meaning and Origin 2 1

When someone says, “If the shoe fits, wear it,” they’re hinting that if a particular remark seems appropriate or accurate about you, then perhaps it’s worth considering or accepting—even if it might be a touch critical. It’s like suggesting, “If this sounds like you, then maybe there’s some truth to it.”

On a lighter note, if someone said I had a book-buying problem, I could deny it all I want, but one look at my credit card statement would determine that the shoe definitely fits me. I buy too many books.

The saying has been shortened over the years to “if the shoe fits,” as most people now understand its meaning.

What Are Some Similar Sayings?

While the shoe is the popular attire of choice for this idiom, other garments have had their day in the limelight, and you’ll likely come across them from time to time. Just know that they pretty much mean the same thing.

  • If the cap fits, wear it
  • If the hat fits, wear it
  • If the boot fits, wear it

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It Origin

If the Shoe Fits Ngram
If the shoe fits usage trend.

The saying first stepped into use in the UK in the early 17th century and was if the cap fits. As it transitioned to America, the word cap changed to shoe.

But there was an even earlier version of the idiom, if the cloak fits, dating back to the 16th century when Richard Hooker used it. You can find it in print in Of the Lawes of Ecclesiasticall Politie, “Which cloake sitteth no lesse fit on the backe of their cause, then of the Anabaptists.”

It is also assumed that the phrase was influenced by the Cinderella story, a fairy tale in which Cinderella becomes a princess because the shoe fits. However, there’s no definitive source to pin to it.

If the Shoe Fits, Wear It Synonyms

  • If it’s true, own it
  • If it rings true
  • If the glove fits
  • Accept the truth

Examples of if the Shoe Fits in a Sentence

If the Shoe Fits Wear It – Meaning and Origin 1 3

  • I wasn’t pointing fingers, but if the shoe fits, wear it.
  • You seem offended by the passing comment I made, but if the shoe fits…
  • Jane told Sarah that if the shoe fits, she should consider the feedback about her behavior at work.
  • He didn’t like being called careless, but if the shoe fits, he needs to change.
  • They always say, “If the shoe fits, wear it,” but sometimes it’s hard to admit our flaws.
  • She smirked, “I didn’t name anyone, but if the shoe fits, lace it up!”
  • Some feedback can be hard to digest, but if the shoe fits, strut with it.

Shoes, Boots, Caps, and Cloaks

If the shoe fits, wear it is more than just an idiom about footwear—it’s about owning up and embracing truths. Don’t try to hide the fact that you don’t understand idioms if the shoe fits. Instead, own up and use our guides to learn as many idioms as you can!