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. You later learn that this person lied to you. Thus, he fooled you once, and shame on him for doing so.

Now, 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 same ruse! Thus, shame on them, because they should have known better. 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’

Nobody wants to feel like a fool once, let alone being made a fool twice. The first appearance of the proverb “fool me once, shame on me” and the last part “fool me twice, shame on you” is from a book called The Court and Character of King James by Anthony Weldon, 1651:

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

If you notice in the quote, he seems to attribute this common saying to the Italians. Is that actually the case; does this expression come from there? It’s certainly possible, but I don’t think it can be confirmed one way or the other. Whatever the case, what we do know based on this quote is that the phrase goes back to the middle of the 17th century. So this “fool me once” proverb is over 360 years old and it’s possible that it’s even older than that.


Example Sentences of Fool Me Once, Shame On You

  • My dad played a prank on me again and I fell for it. Fool me once, shame on you, but twice that is on me.
  • I played some one on one basketball with my friend. He ended breaking my defense and winning the game by using a clever spin move. He tricked me last time with the exact same maneuver! I should have been wise to it this time around; fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me as the saying goes.

Tip: Use the menu at the top to find more common phrases like this one. They are organized alphabetically, so finding your favorite phrase has never been easier. Assuming we have it, of course. All you have to do is choose a letter and you’re off to the races.