I would like to know if

bring grist to the enemy's mill


play into somebody's hand

are idioms or proverbs and if their meaning are the same?

  • 1
    I would think if you are accusing of someone bringing grist to the enemy's mill, you are calling them a traitor, double-agent, or saboteur. They would most likely be performing these actions on their own accord. Playing into someone's hand means that you are being tricked into doing something that will ultimately benefit the requester. – Skooba Dec 21 '15 at 14:13
  • @Skooba Why not post an answer with your comment? – user140086 Dec 21 '15 at 14:46
  • @Rathony. Trying to make sure the answer is worthy of ELU standards... working on it though. – Skooba Dec 21 '15 at 14:52

Bring grist to the enemy's mill would generally be used in the form of an accusation of a teammate or friend to effect of calling them a traitor, double-agent, or saboteur. The guilty party would be doing so for profit or favor from the enemy. Also, the one "bringing the grist" would have done so on their own accord.

Play into somebody's hand would be used when a person is tricked into performing a task by another (usually an adversary). In this case the person performing the action would be unaware that those actions would be causing a benefit for another; or the person asking for the action has a different motive than they expressed.

The word to describe these phrases would be "metaphor" as you are likening one situation to another. The difference between idioms, proverbs, and metaphors can be hard to distinguish.

These phrases would not mean the same thing, but could be used in similar situations depending on context or point-of-view.

  • You finally posted an answer. +1) – user140086 Dec 21 '15 at 16:20

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