Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

Have you ever fallen for the same trick twice? If yes, then you should learn from your mistakes. But how does that apply in writing? Surely, you’ve heard the saying, fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

We’ll take a look the meaning of the proverb, its origin, and some examples of its use in sentences.

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, it’s his fault; but if twice, it’s my fault.’”

What’s the Saying About Shame?

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. Once someone has shown themselves untrustworthy, you should not be surprised when they betray you again.

A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that may be a famous or inspirational quote. These sayings are language tools or figures of speech that give advice, share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. 

The moral of the saying is that you should be hesitant to trust someone who deceived you before. So, if you forgive your ex-boyfriend for cheating on you and he cheats again, it’s probably your fault for trusting him again.

What’s the Origin of Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me Quote?

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, it’s his fault.

Based on this excerpt, the saying could originate in Italy. But no one has any concrete evidence to prove it. 

In a rink advertisement, the Daily Ohio Statesman newspaper also mentioned the saying in 1869. It said:

“We write also in the interests of the general public, who, dear, confiding souls, believe whatever the Rink people tell them. But who also hold to the faith of an old French friend of ours, who said, “If a man he fool me once he’s d–d fool; if he fool me twice I’m d–d fool.”

Today, the proverb is often quoted as fool me once, and the listener is expected to understand the rest of the unspoken sentiment.

Rapper J. Cole extends the quote in his song, No Role Modelz. He said:

“Fool me one time, shame on you,
Fool me twice, can’t put the blame on you,
Fool me three times, f*ck the peace signs,
Load the copper, let it rain on you.”

Fool Me Once, Shame on You, Fool Me Can’t Get Fooled Again Meaning

George Bush said in 2002 the quote, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee–I know it’s in Texas, probably Tennessee–that says, ‘Fool me once, shame on… shame on you. Fool me–you can’t get fooled again.’”

The correct aphorism should be “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” J. Cole used this portion of Bush’s speed in his song, No Role Modelz.

How to Use Fool Me Once Saying in a Sentence

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)

Examples

  1. Your friend messages you asking to borrow money for rent. You lent her a few dollars but never messaged you to return the money. A few months later, he messages you again to ask for money, promising to return the money soon. But this time, you should already know it’s a lie. So, you tell him, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”
  2. Mae and Mary’s volleyball teams played against each other. Mae kept making Mary’s team play outside the sidelines and inline. Mae did this offensive strategy twice. So, Mary said, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”

Don’t Get Fooled Again!

The saying, Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me was first used in 1650 by politician Anthony Weldon. It’s a witty way to say that you should learn from someone’s tricks on you. If you don’t, you’re the only one to blame. Want more proverb breakdowns to use in your writing? See what we have to say about the saying, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth!

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