Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me 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 fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me is a proverb that means if someone takes advantage of me twice, I only have myself to blame. The underlying reasoning is that once someone has shown himself to be untrustworthy, you should not be surprised when he again shows himself to be untrustworthy. The expression fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me has its origins in the 1600s. The idea is found in a book written by Anthony Weldon in 1651, The Court and Character of King James: “The Italians having a Proverb, ‘He that deceives me once, its his fault; but if twice, its my fault.’” Today, the proverb is often simply quoted as fool me once, and the listener is expected to understand the rest of the unspoken sentiment.


This could be a fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me situation, but we are willing to take that risk. (Dairyland Express)

There are many sayings that apply to our present predicament — notably, “once bitten, twice shy,” and “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.” (Amandala)

Fool me once, airborne COVID-19, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. (Sydney Morning Herald)

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