Is there an idiom which implies that the only match of a certain entity is another entity of the same kind, with some sort of 'sordidness' in the entities?

Paul is a seasoned bluffer. Ron can't handle him, only George can. Only diamond can cut diamond

Perversion here is Paul and George (implied) being bluffers.

I am NOT looking to use it in the following sense:

Paul is a good wrestler in 200kg category. Ron is a champion of 300kg category but he cannot handle him, only John can.


I'm looking for a replacement of 'only diamond can cut diamond' in the above sentence.

Perversion -> sordidness

phrase -> idiom

Also, I like @silenus's answer: "It takes a thief to catch a thief", its perfect based on my initial question but is there a idiom where the entity being used as a comparison doesn't imply any sordidness on its own? e.g. Diamond is neutral but thief, not so much.

  • You may want to clarify what you mean by "perversion". I take it that you want the phrase to suggest that the entities in question are in some sense unwholesome, more like gamblers and criminals than gymnasts and wrestlers. Is this correct? If so, you should probably modify your title to more accurately reflect the specifics of your request. – GoldenGremlin Feb 24 '16 at 6:29
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    The more general idiom is "It takes one to know one." – Sven Yargs Feb 24 '16 at 19:47

Here's a list of alternatives you may consider:

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    What about "it takes one to know one"? We use that a lot over here in NZ – Isaac May 29 '17 at 2:42

You might go with it takes a thief to catch a thief which means that "only a thief knows how a thief thinks and acts" (here).

This phrase can be used more generally to mean that only a dishonest person can best another dishonest person.

It can also be used even more generally to mean that only a person of some type (not necessarily dishonest) can best another person of the same type.

It seems perfect for what you want given that "thief" connotes what you call "perversion" (by which I assume you mean something like "sordidness").

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  • +1, but surely you should reference Hitchcock's "To Catch a Thief"? If a user is unaware of this classic, he should be made aware! – ab2 Feb 24 '16 at 19:24

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