Can someone suggest an idiom which means - taking advantage of something, which gave you the right to take advantage in the first place?

I know this isn't clear, but it's something like - Shooting a person in the head when it was that person who taught you how to use a gun. Or like misusing freedom of speech to defame your own country when its the country who has given you the right to free speech in the first place!

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    It is not a "misuse" of freedom of speech to criticize the government that protects that freedom of speech. That is the intended use of freedom of speech. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 16:24
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    @DougWarren Okay our views differ from on this :P I actually meant extreme defamation and un-patriotic comments kind. Anyway it's about the idiom :D Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 17:07
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    I'd say it's "ironic"
    – P. O.
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 18:04
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    In Portuguese we say spit on the plate you ate from e.g.: She used to work for me and I gave her some money to help her buy her own car, now that she's got a better job she's bragging about it to me, she is spitting on the plate she ate from
    – Kyle
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 19:38
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    I found the wording of this question confusing, because the phrase "to take advantage of" has two quite different meanings. To take advantage of someone has the pejorative sense of dealing with that person unfairly; whereas to take advantage of something usually means simply to use it in the way it was intended to be used. See these two definitions at google.com/search?q=take+advantage+of
    – David K
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 21:08

6 Answers 6


Consider bite the hand that feeds you

  1. to treat someone badly who has helped you in some way, often someone who has provided you with money

  2. To repay generosity or kindness with ingratitude and injury

[The Free Dictionary]

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    Yes! This is probably what I couldn't recall! Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 17:07

The Bible has this expression. Proverbs 17:13:

English Standard Version

If anyone returns evil for good, evil will not depart from his house.

International Standard Version

The person who repays good with evil will never see evil leave his home.



foul one's own nest

Fig. to harm one's own interests; to bring disadvantage upon oneself. (Alludes to a bird excreting into its own nest.) FOD

Sort of in the same vein but a lot more vulgar, crap/shit in one's own nest/backyard/where one eats/sleeps Oxford Reference

  • Yep thanks. The vulgar ones really bring out the idea. Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 17:09

From the "teacher's" point of view, consider the following idioms:

  • Give [sb] the stick to beat you with,
  • Make a rod for your own back,
  • Dig your own grave,
  • Cherish a snake in your bosom.

From the "ingrate's" point of view:

  • from @BiscuitBoy, bite the hand that feeds you,
  • from @Rathony, returns evil for good,
  • and, applicable in some circumstances, a variant of @xxx(deleted answer) "pass the buck", pass the hot potato.

I think that what you are describing is generally referred to as a boomerang effect:

  • In social psychology, the boomerang effect refers to the unintended consequences of an attempt to persuade resulting in the adoption of an opposing position instead.


  • I don't see how this fits the original question, which had little to do with persuading anyone to do anything, but rather someone does something to benefit someone else, and the recipient of that benefit then uses it against the giver.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 21:00

give somebody an inch and they'll take a yard is said about someone who has been given a small amount of power or freedom to do something, and then has tried to get a lot more.

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