Beware Of Greeks Bearing Gifts

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Meaning of Idiom 'Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts'

When someone says "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" they mean that you should not trust enemies or opponents who are being friendly, showing kindness or being generous, as they may have an ulterior motive. 1,2

Usage Examples

"After spreading rumors about me to all my friends, Casandra suddenly wants to take me out to lunch. Robbie told me to beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

"Before you trust that snake Edward to help you in your business, I'll remind you: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts."

Beware of Greeks bearing gifts idiom meaning
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts idiom meaning

Origin

This idiom alludes to a famous ploy during the Trojan wars, which ultimately led to the downfall of Troy. The Greeks sent the Trojans a large wooden horse as a gift. When the Trojans brought the horse into their city, Greek soldiers hidden within the horse attacked the city.

In the Aeneid written between 29 BC and 19 BC, Virgil wrote of a Trojan priest Laocoon who warned the Trojans, saying "timeo Danaos et dona ferevntes." This phrase means "I fear the Danaans (Greeks), even those bearing gifts." This phrase has since been paraphrased as "beware of Greeks bearing gifts." The phrase has been used ever since.

Sources
1. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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