Is this a proverb? What does it mean and what is the origin?

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    Have you ever looked in a spittoon? Would you want risk that getting on you? – Jim Sep 14 '13 at 7:40
  • Is this a proverb? From NOAD: proverb (n.) a short pithy saying in general use, stating a general truth or piece of advice. Sure looks like a proverb to me. – J.R. Sep 14 '13 at 8:04
  • By the bye, this is also Francis Underwood's, from House of Cards, Season 2, Episode 9 or 10 (I don't remember). – Accounting Jun 15 '14 at 10:06

It's a quote by Will Rogers, and almost anything he said (in one sentence or less) could be described as a proverb. The meaning is sort of obvious: if you slap a man who is chewing tobacco, you are likely to end up wearing it!

It would be similar to "catching a tiger by its tail". The idea being that you should not underestimate your adversary.

About Will Rogers

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  • @ReqDwight thanks, I had stuck a <giggle> in there but I guess the parser ate it. – John Faulkner Sep 14 '13 at 9:14
  • Maybe adding a link to Will Rogers might be helpful for non-Americans. I don't know who he is at all. – Mari-Lou A Sep 14 '13 at 12:32
  • Anything written as <text> is interpreted as an HTML tag which is why your <giggle> did not appear. – terdon Sep 14 '13 at 14:43
  • @Mari-Lou Done! – John Faulkner Sep 15 '13 at 17:51
  • Thanks, a very unique man. Do you know if there is anyone in the US who can live up to his legacy? – Mari-Lou A Sep 15 '13 at 18:07

It means that if a man is doing something undesirable, don't confront him upfront or you'll be negatively affected in some way or the other too.

Just like if you slap a man while he's chewing tobacco you'll get some of the dirty stuff onto yourself too

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It means that when he's chewing tobacco, he's probably in a foul mood, and it's not a good moment to confront him.

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  • Will you provide references to support your assertion? – George Cummins Mar 17 '14 at 15:43
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