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Honor among thieves and no honor among thieves

  • The proverbs honor among thieves and no honor among thieves are frequently cited, though one phrase is much older than the other. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that gives advice or shares a universal truth. We will examine the meanings of honor among thieves and no honor among thieves, where these phrases came from and some examples of their use in sentences.


     

    Honor among thieves is the sentiment that even criminals have a code of conduct among themselves. Some aspects of this code of conduct may be to not steal from each other, or to not testify against a fellow criminal to the police. The idea of the proverb honor among thieves dates back at least to Cicero, an orator and politician in ancient Rome. In Cervantes’ Don Quixote, published in 1612: “The old proverb still holds good, thieves are never rogues amongst themselves.” Even at this time, the idea is an old one.

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    No honor among thieves is the sentiment that thieves are criminals, and are untrustworthy. This proverb is a direct disputation of the original proverb, honor among thieves, and first appeared in the early 1800s. In both phrases, the American spelling is honor, the British spelling is honour.

    Examples

    But it’s the noir films that Melville is known for, and there’s a great selection, including several with Alain Delon: “Le Samourai” (1967), perhaps the director’s key film; “Un Flic” (1972), co-starring Catherine Deneuve; and the remake-bound “Le Cercle Rouge” (1970), another caper picture, but really about honor among thieves, with Yves Montand. (The Reading Eagle)

    But in a heartwarming case of honor among thieves, the last man to smash the president’s star — elevator fortune heir James Otis — has stepped up to pay Clay’s $20,000 bail, TMZ reports. (The Chicago Tribune)

    Monday’s proceedings in the trial of President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, gave a tutorial in the “no honor among thieves” phenomenon. (The Winston-Salem Journal)

     


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