the higher the monkey climbs the more he shows his tail

The further an unsuitable person is promoted, the more obvious his inadequacies become. In various more or less polite forms.

c 1395 WYCLIF Bible (1850) Proverbs iii. 35 (gloss) The filthe of her foli aperith more, as the filthe of the hynd partis of an ape aperith more, whanne he stieth [climbs] on high.

c 1594 BACON Promus 102 He doth like the ape that the higher he clymbes the more he shows his ars.

1670 J. RAY English Proverbs 57 The higher the Ape goes, the more he shews his tail... The higher beggars or base bred persons are advanced, the more they discover the lowness and baseness of their spirits and tempers.

1743 POPE Dunciad iv. 157 (note) The higher you climb, the more you shew your A—.

1873 TROLLOPE Phineas Redux I. xxxiv. He’s to be pitchforked up to the Exchequer... The higher a monkey climbs—; you know the proverb.

1985 Washington Post 3 Nov. C3 Let me tell you something Cookie and try to remember it the rest of your life, will you? The higher a monkey climbs the more he shows his ass.

2000 Washington Post 12 Dec. D6 The great expectations cost Norv Turner his job. And the attending soap opera quality made Dan Snyder a villainous stick figure across the nation. The lesson is obvious: The higher you attempt to climb, the more your behind shows.


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