Turn the Other Cheek

Meaning

Turn the Other Cheek: to do nothing to retaliate when attacked or insulted by another; to accept an attack passively; to respond to an attack or insult in a humble and mild way. 1Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2010.,2Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.,3Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

Examples Of Use

“I know it’s hard,” said David’s mom, “but you have to learn to turn the other cheek when someone picks on you.”

“Alan has always had a chip on his shoulder. He doesn’t know how to turn the other cheek.”

“I couldn’t believe it when I saw that strange man get punched at the diner. He just stood there with a serene look on his face. Talk about turning the other cheek!”

Origin

The idiom turn the other cheek comes from Matthew 5:39 4Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010., one of the most famous verses of the Bible and part of the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus tells his followers to not retaliate against evil or to seek revenge:

“But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

This instruction, as it is usually interpreted, seems to be a direct contradiction to the “eye for an eye” instruction of Deuteronomy 19:21, but many scholars think that Jesus’ words are widely misinterpreted. Nevertheless, the idiom remains.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
2, 4. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
3. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.