don’t cut off your nose to spite your face

A warning against spiteful revenge which results in one’s own hurt or loss. The metaphorical phrase to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face is very frequently found. Cf. medieval L. male ulciscitur dedecus sibi illatum, qui amputat nasum suum, he who cuts off his nose takes poor revenge for a shame inflicted on him; mid 14th-cent. Fr. qui cope son nès, sa face est despechie, the man who cuts off his nose spites his face.

c 1560 Deceit of Women I1 He that byteth hys nose of, shameth hys face.

1788 F. GROSE Dict. Vulgar Tongue (ed. 2) U3v He cut off his nose to be revenged of his face, said of one who, to be revenged of his neighbour, has materially injured himself.

1889 R. L. STEVENSON Master of Ballantrae x. He was in that humour when a man—in the words of the old adage—will cut off his nose to spite his face.

1964 RIDOUT & WITTING English Proverbs Explained 43 Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

1980 A. CRAIG Pint of Murder vi. So the next thing anybody knew she’d run off an’ married that no-good Bob Bascom an’ if that ain’t cuttin’ off your nose to spite your face, I’d like to know what is.


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  • Cutting off the nose to spite the face — is an expression used to describe a needlessly self destructive over reaction to a problem: Don t cut off your nose to spite your face is a warning against acting out of pique, or against pursuing revenge in a way that would damage oneself more… …   Wikipedia

  • cut off — 1) PHRASAL VERB If you cut something off, you remove it with a knife or a similar tool. [V P n (not pron)] Mrs Kreutz cut off a generous piece of the meat... [V n P n (not pron)] He cut me off a slice... [V n P …   English dictionary

  • cut off — phrasal verb [transitive] Word forms cut off : present tense I/you/we/they cut off he/she/it cuts off present participle cutting off past tense cut off past participle cut off 1) to remove something by cutting it Cut the tops off the carrots. Why …   English dictionary

  • cut — participial adjective see a slice off a cut loaf isn’t missed verb see don’t cut off your nose to spite your face cut your coat according to your cloth diamond cuts diamond measure seven times, cut once …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • spite — see don’t cut off your nose to spite your face …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • nose — see don’t cut off your nose to spite your face …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • face — see don’t cut off your nose to spite your face the eyes are the window of the soul …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • cut — cut1 [ kʌt ] (past tense and past participle cut) verb *** ▸ 1 use knife/sharp tool ▸ 2 have ability to cut ▸ 3 injure part of body ▸ 4 reduce/lower ▸ 5 on computer ▸ 6 stop something moving/working ▸ 7 make something shorter ▸ 8 divide playing… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • cut — cut1 W1S1 [kʌt] v past tense and past participle cut present participle cutting ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ 1¦(reduce)¦ 2¦(divide something with a knife, scissors etc)¦ 3¦(make something shorter with a knife etc)¦ 4¦(remove parts from film etc)¦ 5¦(make a… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • cut — 1 /kVt/ verb past tense and past participle cut present participle cutting 1 DIVIDE WITH KNIFE ETC (T) to divide something into two or more pieces using a sharp tool such as a knife: Do you want me to cut the cake? | The thieves had cut the phone …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English


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