Never Bite the Hand That Feeds You (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Never Bite the Hand That Feeds You"?

The term "never bite the hand that feeds you" means don't act negatively towards a person who provides for you. (It is also commonly seen as "Don't bite the hand that feeds you.")
Never Bite the Hand That Feeds You (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • Don't shout at Anne! She's letting you stay at her place for nothing. Never bite the hand that feeds you!
  • Be kind to your boss in your speech. Don't bite the hand that feeds you.
  • Did you steal that money from the family who took you in? Where are you going to stay now? Never bite the hand that feeds you.
The origin of this proverb is unknown, but it was used as early as 1718 (evidence). A version of the saying was used on several occasions by British politician Edmund Burke, who served as a member of Parliament (MP) between 1766 and 1794. Burke used similar words to today's proverb to warn his fellow MPs that the electorate was fickle and would quickly turn against the government (the "hand" that feeds the people) if things went wrong.
  • "We set ourselves to bite the hand that feeds us."
  • "Having looked to government for bread, on the first scarcity, they will turn and bite the hand that fed them."

Previous and Next Sayings

Test Your Knowledge of English Proverbs and Idioms

Ready for the Test?

More Proverbs, Sayings, and Idioms

Help Us To Improve Grammar Monster

  • Do you disagree with something on this page?
  • Did you spot a typo?
Next lesson >

See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

Page URL