Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am having difficulty finding English idiom(s) for these situations:

  • A person who was previously poor then becomes arrogant because she/he is rich now.

  • A person who has been helped (because she/he really needs it) but she/he just walks away (and forgetting the person who has helped her/him) after achieving a comfortable state.

Does this ring a bell: "A rolling stone gathers no moss"?

My native proverb is: "The nut that forget its skin"

share|improve this question
6  
That's not what "a rolling stone gathers no moss" means. This means a life with a lot of excitement may miss things (like making good friends). There's nothing there about forgetting one's past. –  Mitch Jul 30 '13 at 13:54
1  
"A rolling stone gathers no moss" can also refer to a person who changes locations, jobs, careers, etc. so much that they don't accumulate any wealth. The way I've most thought of it is that an active, vibrant person who lives life to the fullest isn't weighed down by baggage or other signs of stagnation. But I have no idea if this is a common or correct interpretation… :) –  ghoppe Jul 31 '13 at 0:15
    
This question keeps reminding me of an antonym to what the asker is looking for: still Jenny from the block! –  Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 31 '13 at 1:50
add comment

11 Answers 11

"A rolling stone gathers no moss" is a proverb rather than an idiom. It means that people who constantly move from one place to the next never make money or friends.

A proverb that meets your definition is:

Set a beggar on horseback, and he'll ride to the Devil.

http://english.al/proverb/set-a-begger-on-horseback-and-hell-ride-to-the-devil/

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you. Is there any other idiom you might consider? The situation could be also like this: A person who has been helped (because she/he really needs it) but she/he just walks away (and forgetting the person who helps her/him) after achieving a comfortable state. –  des Jul 31 '13 at 1:06
    
@Des. Apparently, there is a Japanese proverb that is equivalent as: A satiated mouth soon forgets the benefactor. Maybe someone could provide the original. –  Shoe Jul 31 '13 at 5:40
    
If you re-read my question, what I need is English idiom(s), thanks. –  des Aug 1 '13 at 21:31
1  
@Des, An idiom for someone who actively harms their benefactor is: to bite the hand that feeds you. idioms.thefreedictionary.com/bite+the+hand+that+feeds –  Shoe Aug 2 '13 at 6:41
add comment

One such is nouveau riche:

noun [treated as plural] (usually the nouveau riche)

people who have recently acquired wealth, typically those perceived as ostentatious or lacking in good taste

[ODO]

[A rolling stone gathers no moss is not the same]

share|improve this answer
1  
This is the best answer for the first situation. I would add, for the second situation, the word ingrate. –  JeffSahol Aug 1 '13 at 23:44
add comment

Such a person can be said to have "forgot where he came from", meaning he's forgotten his humble roots and is acting as if he was born to wealth.

share|improve this answer
    
I wonder if that is an English idiom (?), thanks anyway. –  des Aug 1 '13 at 5:54
    
@Des, are you looking specifically for UK English idioms? –  Leatherwing Aug 1 '13 at 16:45
    
Actually I am looking for both British and American English idiom(s). –  des Aug 1 '13 at 21:38
add comment

Consider social climber

a person who strives to gain a higher rank in society, usu. by associating with more socially prominent people.

Social climber is a term that could be used by someone of any social status when characterizing a person seeking to be accepted in a status higher than previously inhabited.

You might also consider

These last three are more likely to be used by someone of a higher class looking down on the climber. The last may have special issues in its use (at least in the US) because of its association with the term uppity

putting on or marked by airs of superiority : arrogant, presumptuous

This term was used extensively in the 20th century to refer negatively to African Americans (and sometimes other minority groups) who sought to be treated equally.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Perhaps not the best answer, but a related (and useful) quote:

It pays to be nice to the people you meet on the way up, for they are the same people you meet on the way down. — Walter Winchell

There's also the more ghetto-type phrase (relevant, although vulgar):

Acting like your [excrement] doesn't stink.

share|improve this answer
add comment

I generally hear this (sad to say) in racial terms.

For instance, a black person who does this is called an "Oreo" (black on the outside, white on the inside). A Native American in this situation is called an "Apple". (red on the outside...well, you get the idea). I've heard of Chinese similarly being called "banannas", but I'm not acquainted with enough Chinese to know how common that one is.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Such a person is often described as "Putting on airs."

A single-word that describes this is "pretentious." It implies that the person is undeserving of of their current position.

Other synonyms include poseur, poser, and imposter.

share|improve this answer
add comment

The best I can come up to describe the sentiment: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

If you wanted, you could put your own spin on the phrase: absolute wealth corrupts absolutely.

share|improve this answer
add comment

After two days I think I have it: victim of one's own success.

share|improve this answer
add comment

"Forgetting that the rungs on the ladder to success are people, not things to be stepped on."

In other words, people provide us with the rungs on which to climb the ladder of success; they themselves are not the rungs to be stepped on on the way up!

share|improve this answer
add comment

kick away the ladder

burn the bridges

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.