I am asking if there is a similar idiom like the German expression "Jemanden die Trauben in den Mund legen" - "to lay the grapes into somebody's mouth".

To say: You need to study that for yourself and should not expect that others always give you the fruits of effort.

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    Now, don't expect us to spoon feed you. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/spoon-feed
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 11:18
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    I feel like this question especially should show some research
    – Unrelated
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:54
  • You need to learn to stand on your own two feet--a common way to say this in English.
    – Xanne
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 1:39
  • @Kris Please don't post answers as comments. Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 18:53
  • @DavidRicherby That was not an answer. It was a real comment with a pun. ! The proper answer is below.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 7:46

6 Answers 6


spoon-feed (ODOL)
[with object]

1.1 Provide (someone) with so much help or information that they do not need to think for themselves.
‘Let them find their own way out of their befuddlement: There is no need to spoon-feed them.’

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    I agree, but the mental image is vastly different between the two. With spoon fed, I envision a parent feeding their infant and competence being an issue, with the grapes idiom, which I'm not familiar with, I imagine a servant and master arrangement and pampering being an issue. I wonder if the two are really used in the same circumstances.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 13:11
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    @PhilSweet to spoon-feed can be used in the FrankMK's context, such as a professor saying "I'm not going to spoon-feed you all the details about X concept, you'll need to read about it in your textbook"; in other words, "I expect you to be competent enough to find the information on your own" (to feed oneself, following the spoon-feeding metaphor).
    – Doktor J
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 15:23
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    @DoktorJ I agree with your example of spoon feed, I'm wondering if that is how the grapes idiom is typically used.
    – Phil Sweet
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 16:53
  • @PhilSweet Firstly, "to lay the grapes into somebody's mouth" is not an English idiom. Moreover, idioms are necessarily metaphorical, not literal.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 7:41

Some people expect to have everything handed to them on a silver platter, in other words, to be served.

(hand something to somebody) on a silver platter ~ give something to somebody without expecting them to do or give anything in return: "I don’t like her at all — she expects to be handed everything on a silver platter as if she’s better than other people." A platter is a large plate that is used for serving food.

  • You need to study that for yourself and not expect anyone to hand it to you on a silver platter.

  • He never had to work a day in his life, everything was handed to him on a silver platter; I mean he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth, under a lucky star.

  • Handing them everything on a silver platter will not serve to build their character; it only makes them weaker.

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    Though I think both this and "spoon-fed" work, I think this is better as it conjures up similar imagery of opulence and social superiority.
    – Orgmo
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 16:39
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    This one sounds like a closer equivalent to the German phrase. They both mean basically the same thing, but to me "handed [...] on a silver platter" suggests entitled laziness (possibly from being rich), whereas being "spoon fed" suggests lack of intelligence.
    – Soron
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 16:47
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    @EthanKaminski - I think "spoon fed" more often suggests a lack of initiative (at least when used metaphorically).
    – J.R.
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 17:27
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    Agreed, "spoon fed" does more imply a lack of initiative or competence (such as spoon-feeding a baby), while "on a silver platter" suggests more of a social expectation of being given the desired information with little or no effort. That said, I've heard spoon-fed used in contexts similar to the example given by OP.
    – Doktor J
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 18:22

If you're looking for an idiom, you could say:

Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

And I will add from my comments a personal favorite:

Here, let me google that for you.

For the latter, it's only used as a sarcastic response when asked a question that can be easily found online.

For the bootstrap phrase, this doesn't just refer to learning though. It can refer to any personal success where one succeeded by virtue of their own determination.

Fun nerd fact, this is where we get the computer term 'bootstrapping'. See: https://english.stackexchange.com/a/35133/185028

With regard to that link, I don't agree with the part that says [achievement] "with minimal resources", but think the more general "with existing resources" part is more accurate.

  • This has less to do with always asking for others to do your work for you, and more to do with the concept of a self-made man.
    – NH.
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 22:52
  • @NH., if you were to tell someone this, in the same context as the OP's phrase, it would be pretty clear that you're saying help will not be forthcoming and you need to do the work.
    – John
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:09
  • but it still answering a different question. the OP asked for putting the grapes in someone else's mouth, you describe something more along the lines of putting the grapes in your own mouth. And the sense is off as stated above.
    – NH.
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:12
  • @NH., well, that's different. But anyway, two idioms can have the same effect using different approaches. The point is, what is understood by the listener is the same, therefore the idioms match. If I said, "Here, let me google that for you", I mean, do your own research even though the idiom shows action by me.
    – John
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 23:19

In this situation I use fend for oneself.

To look after or take care of oneself without assistance from anyone else.(TFD)

For an example:

You need to learn to fend for yourself, I'm not gonna be around forever.

  • this one seems more akin to “sink or swim” and the like Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 16:58
  • @can-ned_food Of course not. If you are left to sink or swim, you are given no help so that you succeed or fail completely by your own efforts, but if you say it's time to learn to fend for yourself you mean you have to learn to look after yourself without relying on help from anyone else. and it's up to you if you want to rely on help from sb or not. It doesn't mean you forsake them.
    – haha
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 19:14
  • Well, that could vary with context. I didn't mean that the two were equivalent, but that I've heard “fend for yourself” more often in situations which would group it by similarity with “sink or swim” than in situations more like “spoon feed” or so. All about the attitude of the speaker to recipient. The example you gave is a good one that shows a situation with more compassion. Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 19:22

First thing that came into my mind is "No pain, no gain"

Or You can also use "you can't have your cake and eat it, too"

"you cant get everything on a silver plate"

  • I like the "cake" idiom :-)
    – FrankMK
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 15:42
  • Welcome to English Language and Usage. Check out the help center page and take the tour. This is a good answer (+1), and it could be made better by including the meanings of the idioms. "Why" your answer works is just as important as the answer itself.
    – user251721
    Commented Mar 9, 2018 at 15:51

I heard something when I was living on the Florida coastline I quite liked that describes this:

Catering to the Whale

Whales being a sea-mammal with an insatiable appetite, it is pretty pointless to provide them a food source they are more than capable of gathering on their own. You also get to play the fat/lazy/blubber-brain card, so the insult is twofold.

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    I don't think this is what you meant: wired.com/2015/05/nintendo-mobile-whales toucharcade.com/2015/04/21/… — which, of course, refer to something very different: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_roller — i.e. either you heard this phrase used differently, or you thought it was referring to literal whales when it was probably more ironic. Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 16:52
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    The person I was speaking with was a mobile app developer. This makes complete sense. Thank you. I love English. So many ways to interpret the same words. :) Commented Mar 17, 2018 at 20:13
  • BTW this is an excellent example of how language, especially idioms (idiomata?) change to suit the speakers. There are many phrases and such which I heard as a child but interpreted much differently than they were intended, as I later learned; sometimes I learned that my parent's own interpretation differed from the colloquial or popular one. Commented Mar 18, 2018 at 1:00

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