I'm quite confident there is a short and to-the-point idiom to express the idea of someone who is an 'expert' in his field, suddenly is found in a situation where he is ignorant. Something that would sound like, or express the idea "the correcter stands corrected". Like saying: "A-ha! You who are a linguist and always correcting everyone's spoken and written language, look at the mistake you just made!".

Of course, the idiom would be an expression of that idea so it doesn't have to be language-related as I've explained here.

9 Answers 9


If correcting everone's grammar could be considered an unpleasant act then "a dose of (one's) own medicine" might be appropriate. Especially since the "medicine" is "fixing" other people mistakes.

"a dose/taste of (one's) own medicine" An experience of the same harmful or unpleasant thing that one has inflicted on others or an attack in the same manner in which one attacks others. https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/medicine

  • This one is good.
    – user253751
    Mar 20, 2020 at 13:17
  • In the UK this is usually "A taste of his own medicine".
    – Ben
    Mar 20, 2020 at 13:19

To be hoist with/by/on one’s own petard.

"A-ha! You who are a linguist and always correcting everyone's spoken and written language, you have been hoisted with your own petard".

OED to hoise: (obsolete – now “hoist/hoisted” – to lift/lifted up) 2b. hoist with his own petard (Shakespeare): Blown into the air by his own bomb; hence, injured or destroyed by his own device for the ruin of others.

OED Petard: A small bomb made of a metal or wooden box filled with powder, used to blow in a door, gate, etc., or to make a hole in a wall. Now historical.

1849 T. B. Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. iii. 322 A third had defended his old house till Fairfax had blown in the door with a petard.

Figuratively (as in your example):

1882 Nature 15 June 146/2 The criticism of practical men..was disarmed; these found themselves hoist with their own petard.

  • 5
    I think it is just "hoist" as in the quotation. "Hoist by one's own petard." Mar 19, 2020 at 14:20
  • 1
    @WeatherVane But 'hoist' on its own has different meanings, as well (e.g. 'hoist the flag'), so it could only work contextually.
    – Joachim
    Mar 19, 2020 at 14:22
  • 3
    @Joachim as you say, it's a different meaning, and unlike a flag, nobody was hoisted. It's a mis-quote that has become repeated until people think it's correct. Please see be hoist by one's own petard. Mar 19, 2020 at 14:24
  • 4
    ...the participle from hoise is hoist. Mar 19, 2020 at 14:33
  • 6
    Yes, it's hoist and not hoisted. The word hoist is an archaic past participle of the verb. See: Why "hoist" in "Hoist with one's own petard"?
    – terdon
    Mar 20, 2020 at 14:55

Physician, heal thyself

From dictionary.com:

A biblical proverb meaning that people should take care of their own defects and not just correct the faults of others. According to the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, Jesus said he expected to hear this proverb from the people of his hometown of Nazareth, because they would want him to work miracles there, as he had in other towns nearby. But he “did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”


Try "the biter bit":

the biter bit
A person who has committed wrongs is now experiencing the same kind of torment, adversity, etc.
Looks like the biter bit. She's always bullied me, and now she's getting a taste of her own medicine.
Ah, the biter is bit! A prankster deserves to be the target of his own tricks once in a while.
TFD Online

In my view, this exactly corresponds to what you're looking for.

  • Also my thoughts exactly! But I didn't realise until I checked in the full OED just how specific the usage / etymology is. Their definition #2 for the noun biter reads spec. A deceiver; one who amuses himself at another's expense; a sharper. (Obs. exc. in ‘the biter bit,’ a traditional quotation.) Mar 19, 2020 at 15:43
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers: It was specific a long time ago, but has broadened to current usage.
    – Robusto
    Mar 19, 2020 at 15:53
  • 3
    I've never heard this idiom before.
    – user253751
    Mar 20, 2020 at 13:16

For a sense of hypocrisy, how about:

the pot calling the kettle black

"The pot calling the kettle black" is a proverbial idiom that may be of Spanish origin, of which English versions began to appear in the first half of the 17th century. The idiom is glossed in the original sources as being used by a person who is guilty of the very thing of which they accuse another . . .
Source: Wikipedia: The pot calling the kettle black

Grammarian: I can't stand you using stative verbs in the progressive!

You: Talk about the pot calling the kettle black . . . you just dropped the possessive before a gerund!

  • 2
    You can also use the more casual form pot, meet kettle, which refers to this idiom
    – CSM
    Mar 21, 2020 at 12:29

“The student has become the master”

  • 4
    in this case, the master (the corrector) has become the student (stands corrected) Mar 20, 2020 at 11:54

"The shoe is on the other foot."

"The tables have turned."

Interestingly I just watched the clip from The Social Network in which Amelia Ritter quizzes Sean Parker about who she is the morning after a party in order to determine that he's actually listening to the women he's seducing. It's then revealed that she doesn't know who he is, which is much like the situation you've described where "the correcter stands corrected." He then uses the mixed metaphor "The shoe is on the other table, which has turned."

  • 1
    Ha ha - love that!
    – Jelila
    Mar 20, 2020 at 21:32

"I should have known better."

"My mistake".

"I stand corrected."

"Sorry. I thought I understood the problem. My error."

"My bad." (very casual statement)

  • 3
    The question was asking for a 2nd-person idiom that reflects a reversal of the norm. These phrases are all from the 1st-person perspective of the usual-corrector/now-correctee, and none capture the reversal aspect. Mar 20, 2020 at 1:55

‘Cobbler’s shoes’

The saying ‘cobblers shoes’ refers to the idea of someone who does great things for others - but not for themselves. In this case, the cobbler (shoe mender) has lousy shoes with holes in, while he spends his life fixing the shoes of others.

This idiom shows up in different forms, such as ‘the cobbler’s children have no shoes’ and ‘the shoemaker always has the worst shoes’. ‘Cobblers shoes’ refers to the whole concept.

Example: Doris ‘Goodness! Professor Prote, the linguist, made a terrible language mix-up again yesterday!’ Fred (eyes skyward) ‘Cobblers Shoes!’


  • 1
    This seems like it would be applicable if the linguist had a misspelling on their own resume, but I don't quite see how it applies unless the linguist has made an error in their own text/speech. If the linguist suggests an erroneous edit to a book they're reviewing for someone else, for example, it's not an instance of "cobbler's shoes". Sloppy editing of their own book would be, on the other hand. Mar 20, 2020 at 16:16
  • Not really, because the point is, that the linguist is supposed to be good at linguistics. So if he isn’t, in any area, then it is still ‘cobblers shoes’. @Nuclear Wang
    – Jelila
    Mar 20, 2020 at 21:30
  • @Jelila. I have to agree with Nuclear Wang: The cobbler’s shoes analogy is applicable to the continuing state of those who might be expected to be perfect in some way, but consistently fail at the task in their own life. This does not reflect the context of the OP in which a person who has been perfect, and has strongly advised others to be perfect, is now suddenly caught contravening his own advice.
    – Greybeard
    Mar 21, 2020 at 12:09
  • No it doesn’t @Greybeard. Who, in life, continually fails at everything anyway? And if the cobbler was so completely useless - he wouldn’t be a cobbler. He’d be out of a job,
    – Jelila
    Mar 22, 2020 at 12:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

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