A Leopard Can't Change His Spots (Origin)

What Is the Origin of the Saying "A Leopard Can't Change His Spots"?

The term "a leopard can't change his spots" means you cannot change who you are. It is most commonly used to refer to a person who has acted badly to suggest that the person will act badly again. For example:
  • We will catch him next time. And, there will be a next time. A leopard can't change his spots. correct tick
The term comes from the Bible:

Book of Jeremiah: Chapter 13: Verse 23

"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil." (King James version)

An Earlier Version (from Geneva Bible, 1560)

"Can the blacke More change his skin? or the leopard his spottes?"

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A Leopard Can't Change His Spots (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • A leopard can't change his spots, suggesting that people's fundamental characteristics or behaviours are unlikely to change.
  • Despite his promises to reform, his actions revealed that a leopard can't change his spots.
  • She hoped her friend would become more reliable, but soon realized that a leopard can't change his spots.
  • After numerous attempts, it became clear that a leopard can't change his spots and some people are set in their ways.
  • They believed he had transformed, but soon discovered that a leopard can't change his spots and he reverted to his old habits.

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.