Don’t Bite The Hand That Feeds You

Also: Never bite the hand that feeds you

Used as an idiom as early as 600 B.C. and in English since at least the 16th century.

Meaning of Idiom ‘Bite the Hand That Feeds You’

To bite the hand that feeds you is to attack, harm, show ingratitude toward, or otherwise turn against someone who is helping you.

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This idiom is illustrated in one of Aesop’s Fables, The Gardener and his Dog:

“A gardener’s dog, frisking about the brink of a well in the garden, happened to fall in. The gardener very readily ran to his assistance, but as he was trying to help him out, the cur bit him by the hand. The man, annoyed at what he considered such ungrateful behavior towards one whose only aim was to save his life, came away the left the dog to drown.”

Some dogs, like this military dog, are trained to attack on demand. But they would never bite the hand that feeds them!

Examples Of Use

“People say you shouldn’t criticize your employer because you’ll be biting the hand that feeds you. It’s you who does the work, so who really feeds who?”

“I cannot stand this client, said Ed, I’m going to tell him to stop being such a pain!” “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” said Chris.


This idiom was used as early as 600 B.c. as by the Greek poet Sappho. Its earliest known recorded use in English is 1711 by writer Joseph Addison. The expression draws on the metaphor of a dog biting its master, just as in the example from Aesop’s Fables, above.

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