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  1. #11
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Wrongdoer accusing others first

    Quote Originally Posted by JMurray View Post
    BobK: (The archaic 'let not' is often avoided by oblique reference, such as: 'Pots and kettles spring to mind.)

    Yes, this saying is very ingrained. I've seen people just raise their eyebrows and say "pot kettle".
    Does anyone know the origin of the saying? We have a pot-kettle saying in Polish too, which is used to express the same idea!

  2. #12
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is online now Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Wrongdoer accusing others first

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    Does anyone know the origin of the saying? We have a pot-kettle saying in Polish too, which is used to express the same idea!
    I hope someone responds; I'll stay tuned. But I'm afraid I have no idea.

    It obviously dates from a time or a culture in which cooking vessels were suspended over a fire. I remember when I first heard it - it seemed very odd to me, as in my experience neither pots nor kettles were black.

    b

  3. #13
    JMurray is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Wrongdoer accusing others first

    I've always assumed it was based on the idea that both pot and kettle were regularly placed over an open fire and would therefore both be black. So for one to accuse the other was hypocritical.
    But this, from Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1870 (revised), tells a different story.

    "The pot calling the kettle black: Said of someone accusing another of faults similar to those committed by the accuser. The allusion is to the old household in which the copper kettle would be kept polished, while the iron pot would remain black. The kettle's bright side would reflect the pot. The pot, seeing its reflection, would thus see black, which would appear to be on the side of the kettle. The pot could then accuse the kettle of a fault it did not have."

  4. #14
    jaylowe is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: Wrongdoer accusing others first

    Thanks everyone.

    But I actually had a scenario in mind: a student who clearly did a sloppy job in an assignment blamed me for not laying down the instructions clearly. As his fault isn't the same one he accused me with, I'm not sure the pot and kettle idiom really applies...

  5. #15
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Wrongdoer accusing others first

    Quote Originally Posted by jaylowe View Post
    Thanks everyone.

    But I actually had a scenario in mind: a student who clearly did a sloppy job in an assignment blamed me for not laying down the instructions clearly. As his fault isn't the same one he accused me with, I'm not sure the pot and kettle idiom really applies...

    The phrase for that is "to shift the blame".

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