In Malayalam/Indian, there's a saying "Istam illatha achi thottath ellam kuttam". It literally translates to:

You find fault with anything done by a woman you don't like.

It means that if there is someone you dislike, you are eager to find their faults or flaws.

What's the equivalent expression in English?

EDIT: I already know about prejudice, but I'm looking for something more than one word, some expression/idiom commonly used.

  • 8
    “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.” ― Dwight D. Eisenhower Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 13:21
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    Scapegoat, fall-guy, patsy, whipping boy... are all 'easy vicims', but none is picked on because they are disliked (they may be, but they don't have to be). The OP wants a phrase for when someone is found fault with/criticised because they are not liked.
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:49
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    There is an equivalent phrase, although it's not universally known: "Bitch eating crackers". It originates from this card: someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMS05YjFkMzUwNDEwNjE1ZjQ4
    – ssav
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:03
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    @ssav that ecard explains my idea far better than my own words. Thanks
    – NVZ
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:05
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    You are doing a good job here, I think you should be more active on the question side too. Good questions are important to the development of the site.
    – user66974
    Commented May 27, 2016 at 12:39

5 Answers 5


The closest proverb I know of is Give a dog a bad name (and hang him). It is usually seen from the dog's point of view: once you have a bad reputation, you will be blamed for everything that goes wrong. But equally of course, if 'you' are looking for someone to blame, it is easiest to find somebody you already disapprove of.

  • The problem with this is that it's not about someone being biased and judgemental, but suffering beforementioned properties. What you are describing can also be illogical hatred instead of just being uninformed and biased.
    – Sakatox
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:58

There are a number of possible expressions that can be used, however, keep in mind that not every culture has a local version of every expression used in other cultures. For example, your malayalam/indian example specifically mentions a woman (assuming the translation is correct) and the concept of 'not liking someone'.

Most western cultures seem to have equivalent expressions, but are broader in setup; they don't distinguish between men/women/children nor between liking or disliking a person, instead focusing on the very general observation that people are always more inclined to find faults in others than to 'see' their faults (a sort of Dunning-Kruger effect).

In Dutch, we have an expression that goes (translated) 'It's easier to see the splinter in someone else's eye than the stick in one's own'.

I think that in terms of idiom, this will be as close as you'll get.

  • The malayalam/indian expression is culturally rooted. Other cultures don't have this rampant woman-based negative bias, only those usually in third-world countries and extremely underdeveloped regions. Historically it's again, proven by several cultures, that not all cultures were male-centric and aren't currently, either.
    – Sakatox
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:54
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    @Terah - instead of answering the OP you seem to be answering a question of your own making ?
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:55
  • @Dan - I did provide additional information on why the OP might not find an exact english version of the expression he translated, but as far I am aware, my answer is based on the OP's later comment "Thanks, but I'm not looking for single-word.". If you feel that I somewhere answered a question not asked by the OP, please point it out to me and I will see about correcting my post.
    – Terah
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 14:59
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    That Dutch expression is common to all nations with a Christian heritage; it comes from Matthew 7. Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:02
  • @Terah - the (Biblical) quote you offer is about how one should not judge others before first looking to oneself. The OP is asking for a phrase to describe the situation when someone is picked on because they are not liked.
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:02

I can't find a heading in the dictionary or other reference, but in common usage, especially when talking about relationships, people will use the phrase "can do no right" in just the way you're talking about. Example: When I married my wife, I could do no wrong; but when we got divorced, I could do no right. Google "can do no right" and you'll find many examples of this usage.

Also, the phrase "they treat me like a stepchild" is often used as a more generalized form of "beat him like a red-headed stepchild."


The word you are looking for is Prejudice (bias). It's one of the meanings, but the general concept is that prejudice means being judgemental(judgmental in legal and lawful contexts, from the BibleTM itself...) with bias and/or lack of information.

EDIT: The expression itself is being prejudiced towards something/someone.

(Bias doesn't contain negativity, just an inclination of decisions/attitude being different.)


  • Don't judge a book by its cover.
  • Alternatively: Judging by the cover.

This is a somewhat fitting expression, it does lack actual negativity/bias.


"B*tch Eating Crackers"

When you dislike someone so much that anything they do, no matter how minor or inoffensive, annoys you beyond any rational level - exemplified by the sentence "look at that bitch eating crackers like she owns the place".

  • from https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Bitch%20Eating%20Crackers

  • As in "I got so pissed off listening to her talk about her holiday - I know it was just BEC, but I had to leave the room."

  • Common when talking about mothers-in-law/daughters-in-law etc.
  • Often shortened to "BEC".
  • Now, I know this is crude, but I had to mention it because it fulfills OC's criteria exactly: It refers to spontaneously finding fault and irritation in everything someone does due to you not liking them in general, and is also used exclusively to refer to women.

https://ask.metafilter.com/316507/How-to-get-over-a-bitch-eating-crackers http://abbythompsontherapy.com/2017/10/23/bitch-eating-crackers-syndrome/

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