In my country, we have an idiom which literally means : people will not trust you ever again if you don't keep your word even just for once

Are there any idioms in English that is close enough to this? Thanks!

  • Tell us the idiom in your native language? Which country?
    – smci
    Nov 10, 2014 at 10:52

2 Answers 2


This feels quite close to me:

Fool me once, shame on - shame on you. Fool me - can't get fooled again.

No, wait, that's not it.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

There we go. Please ignore that first one, it's just someone fumbling it.

The proverb basically means "I'll trust anyone, and they shouldn't take advantage because it is a bad thing to do. But if they do trick me, I would be a fool to trust them again."

Another one that is somewhat similar is the Aesop reference boy who cried wolf.

  • If the idiom isn't the first one, could you edit your answer accordingly? A link would also be nice. I've not heard of this saying, but it rings well :) I think the "boy who cried wolf" is perhaps known worldwide, and very appropriate.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 10, 2014 at 6:07
  • @Mari-LouA: Better? :)
    – Amadan
    Nov 10, 2014 at 6:10
  • Why not just delete it altogether? Ahhh, I see you've added a link. EDIT: Like it! Nice one. :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 10, 2014 at 6:13
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA: Because I find it funny, and a cultural reference, and an example of idiom usage (even though it is fumbled).
    – Amadan
    Nov 10, 2014 at 6:14
  • Gotta love the Bush-bashing jokes! He added such joy to the language :-) Apr 22, 2015 at 22:35

Once bitten, twice shy can convey the idea: (from TFD)

  • Prov. When something or someone has hurt you once, you tend to avoid that thing or person.

  • I once sent in money for something I saw advertised in the back of a magazine, but the merchandise was of such poor quality I was sorry I'd bought it. I'll never buy anything that way again; once bitten, twice shy.

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