Practice What You Preach – Origin & Meaning

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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.

What a curious language English is, filled to the brim with idioms, proverbs and expressions that add layers of depth to our conversations! Today’s phrase on the docket is practice what you preach, a popular saying that rolls off the tongue as easily as it rolls up the eyes. Let’s get to it.

Is Practice What You Preach an Idiom?

Practice What You Preach Origin Meaning

Technically speaking, practice what you preach shouldn’t be an idiom because it’s more of a proverb, which is a short saying that imparts advice or shares a universal truth. So, this proverb encourages consistency between what someone advocates and their actions. That said, we classify it as both an idiom and a proverb in English.

Practice What You Preach Meaning Explained

Simply put, if you practice what you preach, you behave the same way you advise others to behave. You don’t just talk the talk—you walk the walk, embodying the advice, rules or principles you’re quick to suggest to others. It’s a call to avoid hypocrisy and strive for authenticity.

Practice What You Preach or Preech

Despite any regional accents or personal speech patterns, the correct spelling and pronunciation is preach, not preech. The word preach comes from the Latin praedicare, meaning to proclaim publicly.

Origin and Etymology Behind Practice What You Preach

The idea conveyed by practice what you preach comes from ancient times, appearing in various forms in different cultures and religious texts. One of the oldest written examples in the Bible is Matthew 23:3, when Jesus criticizes the Scribes and Pharisees because they didn’t practice what they taught.

Practice What You Preach Ngram 1
Practice what you preach usage trend.

But the exact phrasing we use today seems to have solidified in the English language in the 17th century.

Synonyms for Practice What You Preach

A plethora of other expressions convey a similar message to practice what you preach. Here are some of them, including the amusing spin on the same phrase.

  • Walk the talk
  • Put your money where your mouth is
  • Lead by example
  • Actions speak louder than words
  • Preach what you teach

Practice What You Preach Examples in Sentences

Practice What You Preach Origin Meaning 1

To help you master this proverb, here are some sentences showing it in use.

  • As a dietitian, she made sure to practice what she preached, maintaining a balanced diet and regular exercise so her clients could learn from a good example.
  • My math teacher, who always preached punctuality, was late to class, so he clearly didn’t practice what he preached.
  • Our eco-conscious mayor practices what she preaches by daily cycling to work.
  • Parents should try their best to practice what they preach to be good role models for their children.
  • After constantly preaching about honesty, the manager was caught lying, exposing that he didn’t practice what he preached.

Stand Behind Your Word

So, there you have it! You’re now well-equipped to add the phrase practice what you preach in your daily conversations. It’s a simple, powerful reminder that our actions should align with our words, especially when we’re dishing out advice. Now, go out there and practice what you preach—literally and figuratively!