Do as I say, not as I do

Do as I say, not as I do, is a proverb. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that may be a famous quote, an inspirational quote, an epigram, or the topic of a parable. These common sayings are language tools or figures of speech that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself because these common phrases and popular sayings are so well known. Certain phrases may be a metaphor or a quotation; but if it is a proverb, it is often-used and has a figurative meaning. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never; early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise; an apple a day keeps the doctor away; don’t cry over spilt milk; actions speak louder than words; haste makes waste, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth; and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the proverb do as I say, not as I do, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

The admonition do as I say, not as I do, is an acknowledgement that the speaker is being a hypocrite. The speaker is acknowledging that his actions are in direct opposition to his words—he is not upholding the standards that he demands from others. People in authority often used the proverb do as I say, not as I do, to let others know that the speaker is above the law; the rules do not apply to the speaker. The expression do as I say, not as I do, can be traced to John Selden’s work, Table-Talk, pubished in 1654: “Preachers say, ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’”


In a classic case of “Do as I say, not as I do,” though, Lahan has repeatedly turned down venture funding since launching Cloudinary in 2012.  (Forbes)

And then there was his “do as I say, not as I do” moment when he attended a dinner at the ritzy French Laundry restaurant in Napa Valley. (Los Angeles Times)

California’s “do as I say, not as I do” mentality is creating a lack of credible leadership in the state and that is trickling down to the respective counties. (Pleasanton Weekly)

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