Fool Me Once, Shame On You…

Meaning:

Recognizing that you fell for the same trick twice and realizing that you should’ve been able to identify it the second time around.

Example: A stranger comes up to you and begs for a few dollars. He claims that he lost his job and so he’s in desperate need of money. Feeling sorry for him, you give him what he asks for. Later, you learn that you were lied to; this man did, in fact, have a job. Thus, he fooled you once, and shame on him for doing so.

Now, what would happen if this same person came up to you days later and repeated the same spiel as before? Would you fall for the same trick again? Probably not, but if someone did, then they were fooled twice by the exact same ruse! Thus, shame on them, because they should have known better because of what happened last time. So as the saying goes, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.” (This is the full version of the proverb.)

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
None.

The Origin Of ‘Fool Me Once, Shame On You’

The earliest recording of this proverb in print is from a book called The Court and Character of King James by Anthony Weldon, 1651, where it reads:

“The Italians having a Proverb, ‘He that deceives me once, its his fault; but if twice, its my fault.'”

Based on the quote, it’s possible that this saying has an Italian origin. Whatever the case may be, what we do know based on the quote is that this phrase is over 360 years old, and it’s probably much older.


Example Sentence

1. I was playing some one on one basketball with my friend, Kyle. He won last time we played because he got around my defense with a tricky spin move. Funnily enough, he beat me this time by doing the exact same thing!

It’s my fault, though, because I should have been wise to it this time around. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me and all that. Well, I’ll be ready next time!


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