Pot calling the kettle black


Pot calling the kettle black

The phrase "Pot calling the kettle black" is an idiom, used to accuse another speaker of hypocrisy, in that the speaker disparages the subject for a fault or negative behavior that could equally be applied to him or her, though there is an alternative interpretation. In former times cast iron pots and kettles were quickly blackened from the soot of the fire. The pot would then be hypocritical to insult the kettle's color, since both are black with soot. When used in debate, the "pot calling the kettle black" may be illogical, as it is a form of the argument ad hominem.

Alternative interpretation

A subtler alternative interpretation, included by some [Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, by William Morris, Mary Morris] [Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1870, revised by Adrian Room (Millennium Edition)] but not all [ [http://www.bartleby.com/81/13550.html Pot] , in Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, by E. Cobham Brewer, 1898 edition] sources is that the pot is sooty (being placed on a fire), while the kettle is clean and shiny (being placed on coals only), and hence when the pot accuses the kettle of being black, it is the pot’s own sooty reflection that it sees: the pot accuses the kettle of a fault that only the pot has, rather than one that they "share".

imilar phrases

* In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is quoted as saying, during the discourse on judgmentalism in the Sermon on the Mount, "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?" It should be noted, however, that "mote" and "beam" are not equivalent, and therefore the prescription applies to personal attacks that are not explicitly hypocritical more naturally than the pot/kettle aphorism.
* An aphorism sometimes attributed to George Herbert states, "People who live in glass houses should not throw stones".

Similar idioms in other languages

* Bangla: "চালুনি কয় সুঁইরে, "তোর পিছনে ফুঁটো" " ("Mesh sieve tells the needle", "You have a hole in your back")Fact|date=August 2008
* Bulgarian: "Присмял се хърбел на щърбел." ("Nick laughed at dent")Fact|date=August 2008
* Chinese: "五十步笑百步", "乌鸦笑猪黑" ("Soldier who fled off the battle fifty steps afar laughs at those a hundred steps afar."), ("Crow laughing at the pig for being black")Fact|date=August 2008
* Croatian: "Rugao se lonac loncu, a oba crna." ("Pot mocked another pot, and they were both black")Fact|date=August 2008
* Dutch: "De pot verwijt de ketel dat hij zwart ziet" ("The pot reproaches the kettle for looking black")Fact|date=August 2008
* Estonian: "Pada sõimab katelt - ühed mustad mõlemad" ("The pot reproaches the kettle - yet both of them are black")Fact|date=August 2008
* Finnish: "Pata kattilaa soimaa" ("The pot reproaches the kettle")Fact|date=August 2008
* French: "La pelle se moque du fourgon" ("The shovel mocks the poker"), [cite encyclopedia|last = Brewer|first = E. Cobham|encyclopedia = Dictionary of Phrase and Fable|title = Pot|url = http://www.bartleby.com/81/13550.html |accessdate = 2007-11-17|edition = 2nd edition|year = 1898|publisher = Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company] "L'hôpital se moque de la charité" ("The hospital mocks the charity")
* German: "Ein Esel schilt den andern Langohr." ("One donkey chides the other for being a long-ear")Fact|date=August 2008
* Greek: "Είπε ο γάιδαρος τον πετεινό κεφάλα" ("The donkey called the rooster a fathead")Fact|date=August 2008
* Hebrew: "הפוסל במומו פוסל" ("The disqualifier disqualifies based on his own fault")] http://hebrewlog.blogspot.com/2004/06/blog-post_108771123693970305.html [
* Hungarian: "Bagoly mondja verébnek, hogy nagyfejű" ("The owl tells the sparrow that it has a big head")Fact|date=August 2008
* Italian: "Il bue che dice cornuto all'asino" or "Il bue che dà del cornuto all'asino" ("The ox labelling the donkey "cornute")Fact|date=August 2008
* Japanese: "目糞鼻糞を笑う" ("For the sleep in one's eyes to laugh at the snot in one's nose")Fact|date=August 2008
* Korean: "똥 묻은 개가 겨 묻은 개 나무란다" ("The dung-stained dog scolds the chaff-stained dog")Fact|date=August 2008
* Lithuanian: "Juokiasi puodas, kad katilas juodas" ("The pot is calling the cauldron black")Fact|date=August 2008
* Persian: "ديگ به ديگ ميگه روت سياه" ("The pot tells the other pot your face is black")Fact|date=August 2008
* Polish: "Przyganiał kocioł garnkowi, a sam smoli" ("The cauldron was reprimanding the pot and it soots itself") [cite web|url=http://usjp.pwn.pl/haslo.php?id=4875425 |title="Uniwersalny słownik języka polskiego" (The Universal Dictionary of the Polish Language |publisher=Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN (Polish Scientific Publishers PWN)|accessdate=2008-08-26] , often contracted to "Przyganiał kocioł garnkowi" ("The cauldron was reprimanding the pot")
* Portuguese: "O sujo falando do mal-lavado" ("The dirty slandering the unclean [as being unclean] ") / "Diz o roto ao nu" ("One with torn clothes mocks the naked" / "Olha quem fala" ("Look who is talking")Fact|date=August 2008
* Romanian: "Râde ciob de oală spartă" ("The shard laughs at the broken pot")Fact|date=August 2008
* Russian: "В чужом глазу соломину видеть, в своём -- бревна не замечать" ("To see a little straw in other's eye, and not to notice a log in his own")
* Spanish: "Apártate que me tiznas, dijo la sartén al cazo" ("Move away, you are blackening me, said the pan to the pot") "El burro hablando de orejas " ("The donkey talking about ears") "El comal le dijo a la olla, que tiznada estas" ("The grill said to the pot, look how blackened you are")Fact|date=August 2008
* Venezuelan Spanish: "Cachicamo diciéndole a morrocoy conchúo" ("An armadillo telling a turtle it is too hard shelled") [http://disidente.franticblog.com/2008/02/20/cachicamo-diciendole-a-morrocoy-conchuo/]
* (wâa dtàe kăo ì-năo bpen eng) ("As for Enau, he is the same") [http://www.thai-language.com Look up อิเหนา]
* Turkish: "Tencere dibin kara, seninki benden kara" ("Pot, your bottom's black; no, yours is blacker than mine")Fact|date=August 2008
* Uzbek: "Ishtoni yoʻq ishtoni yirtiqdan kulgan ekan" ("A man without pants laughed at man with holey pants")Fact|date=August 2008

Uses in literature

* Miguel de Cervantes in "Don Quixote" — "said the frying-pan to the kettle, get away, blackbreech" [ [http://www.online-literature.com/view.php/don_quixote/125?term=kettle Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Chapter LXVII ] ]
* Henry Fielding in "Covent Garden Journal" — "Dares thus the kettle to rebuke our sin!/Dares thus the kettle say the pot is black!"
* William Penn in "Some fruits of Solitude" - "For a Covetous Man to inveigh against Prodigality... is for the Pot to call the Kettle black."
* Margaret Mitchell in "Gone with the Wind" — "The pot's calling the kettle black."The Geto Boyz in 'We Cant Be stopped' - "Aint that the pot calling the kettle black?"

See also

*Tu quoque

in law / juristic context:
*Unclean hands
*Equity (law)
*Equitable remedy

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • pot calling the kettle black — If someone hypocritically criticises a person for something that they themselves do, then it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black …   The small dictionary of idiomes

  • pot calling the kettle black —    If someone hypocritically criticises a person for something that they themselves do, then it is a case of the pot calling the kettle black.   (Dorking School Dictionary)    ***    This expression is used in a situation where a person with a… …   English Idioms & idiomatic expressions

  • pot calling the kettle black — noun /ˈpɒt ˌkɔːliŋ ðə ˌkɛtəl ˌblæk,ˈpɑːt ˌkɑːliŋ ðə ˌkɛtəl ˌblæk/ A situation in which somebody comments on or accuses someone else of a fault which the accuser shares. I think its a case of the pot calling the kettle black when she says he is… …   Wiktionary

  • pot calling the kettle black — a person who is criticizing someone else is as guilty as the person he criticizes I was joking to her about why she was afraid to look for another job but she said it was like the pot calling the kettle black as I also never tried to change jobs …   Idioms and examples

  • pot calling the kettle black — a guilty person accusing another guilty person    When thief accuses robber, it s the pot calling the kettle black …   English idioms

  • Pot calling the kettle black — someone says something adverse about you, and you replywith this phrase (which says that they are the same or worse then their statement) …   Dictionary of Australian slang

  • pot calling the kettle black — Australian Slang someone says something adverse about you, and you replywith this phrase (which says that they are the same or worse then their statement) …   English dialects glossary

  • (the) pot calling the kettle black — the pot calling the kettle black informal phrase used for saying that someone is criticizing another person for a fault that they also have Thesaurus: ways of making or receiving criticism or blamehyponym to criticize, accuse or blamesynonym… …   Useful english dictionary

  • the pot calling the kettle black — Castigation of another s faults by someone with the same shortcomings • • • Main Entry: ↑pot * * * I see pot I II used to convey that the criticisms a person is aiming at someone else could equally well apply to themselves …   Useful english dictionary

  • the pot calling the kettle black — ► the pot calling the kettle black used to convey that the criticisms a person is aiming at someone could equally well apply to themselves. Main Entry: ↑kettle …   English terms dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.