In the book Crippled America by Mr. Trump, chapter 5: Education: A failing Grade. Mr. Trump quoted:

The school taught you how to be a leader. It taught you, 'show me a sore loser, and I'll show you a loser.'...

I don't understand what the sentence: 'show me a sore loser, and I'll show you a loser.' means. If 'I'll show you a loser' --> who is the loser I will show?

  • 1
    Perhaps try ell.stackexchange.com. Questions asking for the meaning of something in a certain context are more on topic over there :)
    – as4s4hetic
    Sep 5, 2017 at 6:35
  • Essentially all you need to do is look up the phrase "sore loser", and realise that "loser" is one of Trump's favourite insults.
    – Chris H
    Sep 5, 2017 at 7:06
  • "A sore loser is someone who loses in a fair competition but whines about it on a constant basis, blaming ..." according to www.urbandictionary.com . I still don't get the meaning.
    – 123iamking
    Sep 5, 2017 at 7:24
  • It's utterly impenetrable to me. To the people commenting that the meaning is obvious, please do take a second to spell it out to me. Because I for one do not get it. At all.
    – RegDwigнt
    Sep 5, 2017 at 10:58
  • You need to keep in mind several things: 1) No one knows who wrote this. Trump wrote very little of his own stuff. 2) "Loser" is one of Trump's favorite pejorative terms. 3) "Sore loser" is a common idiom. 4) "Show me an X and I'll show you a Y" is a common idiom. 5) "Loser" and "sore loser" have somewhat different meanings and implications. 6) And, as Flater points out below, Trump is not given to "clever" statements, but rather is apt to use well-known terms as "dog whistles" to his "base".
    – Hot Licks
    Sep 5, 2017 at 12:15

1 Answer 1


This is based on a common type of phrase:

Show me a {description A} and I'll show you a {description B}

where the implication is that "If you bring me something that meets description A, I will be able to show you something that meets description B, because anything that meets description A also meets description B".

One example (from quick googling) is:

Show me a man with a tattoo and I'll show you a man with an interesting past

which means "All men with tattoos have interesting pasts."

So, from Trump's example we have that anyone who is a sore loser:

a person who becomes very upset or angry when he or she loses a game, contest, etc.

is also a loser:

    • a person or thing that loses especially consistently
    • a person who is incompetent or unable to succeed; also

    • something doomed to fail or disappoint

Interpreting the phrase "show me a sore loser, and I'll show you a loser" is difficult, however. It could mean:

Someone who has just lost and has justifiably got angry about it is still someone who has just lost

which implies "any failure is a failure, however you take it. i.e. any failure is bad".

Alternatively you could take Trump's phrase to mean:

"anyone who gets upset when they lose is someone who is unable to succeed".

Flipping this around, I interpret the phrase as meaning:

In order to succeed you have to learn to cope with the times that you fail

Side note:

My googling for similar phrases suggests that a much more common form of the phrase is "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser", which is pretty close to the first interpretation above of Trump's phrase. It implies that any failure is a failure, and there is nothing to be gained by learning to cope with failure.

  • Even in the context of Trump saying it, I still took the original to say "a sore loser is a loser" without changing the meaning of "loser", i.e. implying that "winning or losing is all that matters" (which makes sense in regards to Trump's general attitude about leadership). Your interpretation is possible too, but I think unless Trump clarifies, it's ambiguous as to which he meant. Given his tendency to not use clever witticisms, I think it's likely that he meant it more at face value.
    – Flater
    Sep 5, 2017 at 11:17
  • @Flater - You could be right. That certainly seems closer to my expectation of Trump, but I couldn't see how to interpret it that way. Now that you've pointed it out it's obvious! Answer updated to cover both interpretations.
    – AndyT
    Sep 5, 2017 at 11:45
  • The set "sore losers" is a subset of the set "losers," as obviously and indisputably as the set "white birds" is a subset of the set "birds." Sep 5, 2017 at 12:26
  • 1
    I think that while "sore loser" carries its obvious meaning (someone who doesn't like to have lost), "loser" carries its slang meaning (someone who is hopeless, contemptible, a Loser with an L on his forehead).
    – Andrew Leach
    Sep 5, 2017 at 15:11

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