Rub someone’s nose in it

Rub someone’s nose in it is an idiom. We will examine the meaning of the idiom rub someone’s nose in it, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To rub someone’s nose in it means to shame someone, to remind him of his past mistakes, to remind him of his failures. Harping on his past failures is unnecessary; it either saps his confidence and makes him more likely to fail again, or it makes him angry and unwilling to cooperate. The expression rub someone’s nose in it is derived from an unkind and ineffective manner of housebreaking a dog, in which the owner rubs the dog’s nose in his feces. This method of housebreaking a dog came into use in the 1900s, and the idiom rub someone’s nose in it came into use in the mid-1900s. Related phrases are rubs someone’s nose in it, rubbed someone’s nose in it, rubbing someone’s nose in it.

Examples

“She very kindly sent me these messages to rub my nose in it so you might have seen her on the street seven months pregnant with his kid.” (The Daily Express)

And just to rub my nose in it, everyone stopped paying attention to me when he came along. (Esquire Magazine)

Everywhere he went in school the boy rubbed his nose in it and intimidated him. (The Scottish Daily Record)

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