There's a Hindi proverb:

नौ सौ चूहे खाकर बिल्ली हज को चली

The literal translation is:

Having eaten 900 rats, cat moves to Hajj (pilgrimage)

This proverb means you adulate yourself pretending to be innocent after committing so many sins.

It also implies a remark for a person who tries to veil his shameful acts by showing himself as a gentleman.

Please provide an English proverb or idiom, which is equivalent to that above one.


“People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” TFD

It is uncouth, hypocritical, or unacceptable to criticize or judge other people for faults or misdeeds of which one is also guilty

  • Being holier-than-thou doesn’t imply that I’m being so in order to conceal the fact that I am in fact a good deal less holy than thee, though, which I gather from the question is a rather intrinsic element of the Hindi proverb. Someone who is actually very pious can maintain a holier-than-thou attitude. Jun 7 '18 at 15:42
  • I changed my answer.
    – lbf
    Jun 7 '18 at 19:52

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

From Wikipedia:

The phrase ["The lady doth protest too much, methinks"] is used in everyday speech to indicate doubt in someone's sincerity. A common misquotation places methinks first, as in "methinks the lady doth protest too much".

The line... is found in Act III, Scene II of Hamlet, where it is spoken by Queen Gertrude, Hamlet's mother. Hamlet believes that his father, the king, was murdered by his uncle Claudius (who then married Gertrude). Hamlet decides to stage a play, the Murder of Gonzago, that matches Hamlet's theory in its basic storyline, in order to test whether viewing it will trigger a guilty conscience on the part of Claudius.

As Hamlet, Gertrude, Claudius and others watch the play-within-the-play, the Player Queen, representing Gertrude, declares in flowery language that she will never remarry if her husband dies. Hamlet then turns to his mother and asks her, "Madam, how like you this play?", to which she replies ironically "The lady doth protest too much, methinks", meaning that the Player Queen's protestations of love and fidelity are too excessive to be believed.

The quotation comes from the Second Quarto edition of the play. Later versions contain the simpler line, "The lady protests too much, methinks".

Personally I would consider the misquotation at the end of the first paragraph, "Methinks the lady doth protest too much," to be the most idiomatic today.

  • I believe what your phrase is describing oftenness with which a dishonest person tend to pretend his innocence. While the OP's question is about irony of the audacity. It may have a slight flavor of the Indian phrase but feel does not completely fit the bill. More suited would be "Evil (people) (always) loves to adorn piety" or more appropriate is "Drink bear n fake thirst" or "Eat cake n fake starvation" or "Covertly promiscuous, overtly sage"
    – AMN
    Nov 12 '20 at 5:13

OP request:

It also implies a remark for a person who tries to veil his shameful acts by showing himself as a gentleman.

A few tactical approaches to that aspect of the question.

Focus on recasting their overall reputation :

  • sugar-coating

  • window dressing

He tried to sugar-coat his public reputation with a few high profile charitable donations to downplay his exploitative ownership of poorly maintained apartment buildings.

Focus on the games they play with themselves:

  • soothing their conscious

He soothed his conscious with donations to charity, to ease his guilt for the pain and suffering he knew his business actions were causing.

Focus on the hypocrisy:

  • token gesture

His token gesture of putting new stoves in each unit was not a good faith effort to correct the health and safety issues in his buildings.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.