9

Not sure if "The Boy who cried wolf" is idiom/phrase/something-else, so that is another question in itself as if the antonym is the correct operator for this context (and that could be another question).

While watching episode of Castle TV Series, upon hearing one of his crazy theories, his team members mention "he has been right too often" to dismiss his idea. Sounded like what opposite of what "he cried wolf too often" which is used to take away credibility by citing the past.

So maybe the correct question to ask should be, what is the phrase/idiom/saying when trying to give credibility to people as opposed to taking it away like "cried wolf too often"?

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  • 2
    right too often...I think I heard one of Columbo's superiors tell the murderer that once. Or was it Monk?
    – Michael
    Aug 22, 2021 at 2:45
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    Wouldn’t an antonym of ‘crying wolf’ be to stay silent and fail to warn of a real apparent danger? Aug 22, 2021 at 7:19
  • 3
    "My girlfriend is a woman of few words so when she talks, everyone stops and listens." oysterenglish.com/idiom-a-man-of-few-words.html
    – Mazura
    Aug 22, 2021 at 22:27
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    "The moral of the story is that liars will not be rewarded; even if they tell the truth, no one believes them." So the moral of your story is that if you always tell the truth, people will believe your lies. The title of that book is, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
    – Mazura
    Aug 22, 2021 at 22:36
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    In the abscence of a proper antonym, one could try something like "He's cried wolf often - but there was a wolf every time."
    – Mookuh
    Aug 23, 2021 at 6:34

6 Answers 6

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He has an impressive / an outstanding / a strong / a proven / ... track record.

track record: a record of past performance often taken as an indicator of likely future performance

  • These stocks have a proven track record.

[Merriam-Webster]

(Obviously, a positive adjective premodifier is needed here.)

As always with requests for 'opposites', not every aspect of the original is mirror-imaged (nor is likely to be in any answer). 'Crying wolf' includes an obvious demand for attention while successful, wise people rarely blow their own trumpets (and neither do they necessarily flee from genuine acclaim).

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    Not a perfect fit for this situation; the question mentions Castle, the TV show, where the title character is full of crazy theories. Many do turn out to be wrong (although we should distinguish between throwaway jokes vs. theories he actually pushes for others to take seriously). A "proven track record" more normally applies to someone who's usually right, rather than crazy ideas that are still low percentage but worth at least checking on. But in detective work in general, you expect many guesses to be wrong so I guess it's more about your batting average vs. other detectives. Aug 21, 2021 at 13:59
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    @PeterCordes - I don’t know… OP says “he has been right too often [to dismiss his idea]” That sounds like proven track record to me.”
    – Jim
    Aug 21, 2021 at 17:56
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    @Jim: I've watched every episode of the show multiple times, although it's been a couple years. Castle's also been wrong a lot; he makes a lot of guesses. The chance that any given guess shown in an episode is actually right is maybe 50% (for the ones he really means, not counting the ones he says just to get under Beckett's skin, especially the supernatural ones). That success ratio would count as a proven track record in detective work, though, so I did upvote this answer. (And I now see the question is asking about the general case, not just Castle, so this is a clearer fit.) Aug 21, 2021 at 18:12
  • 2
    Questions dependent on an assumed acquaintance with details of fictional works are off-topic on ELU. Aug 21, 2021 at 19:01
11

One opposite could be "to be a Cassandra", that is, to be right but not be believed. This doesn't bring in the repetition implied in crying wolf, so it isn't perfect.

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    Not sure how this is the accepted answer, when the question asks for a case when being right in the past produces belief, not disbelief.
    – Michael
    Aug 22, 2021 at 2:46
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    "to be a Cassandra" isn't a common phrase. I'm a native English speaker and I wouldn't understand what that was supposed to mean even though I do know the story of Cassandra (I'm not even sure that most English speakers do know the story of Cassandra)
    – Stormcloud
    Aug 22, 2021 at 16:51
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    @Stormcloud I've never heard of someone "being a Cassandra" but the meaning is obvious to me. Aug 23, 2021 at 5:10
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    Who is Cassandra? As a native English speaker, if someone said that, I'd be completely clueless what they meant. This also doesn't give what the question is asking for, which is a term for someone who has been right so often that they can't be disbelieved (or are automatically believed, in other words).
    – Herohtar
    Aug 23, 2021 at 18:34
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    @Herohtar, sorry it took so long to answer your question. In Greek myth Cassandra was a Trojan who Apollo fell in love with. In an attempt to woo her Apollo gave her the gift to see the future, which she accepted. When she refused to sleep with him Apollo cursed her so that nobody would believe her (she should have seen that coming?). She warned the citizens of Troy about the forth coming war, but they ignored her and as a consequence Troy fell. I only know this because Al Stewart wrote song called "Helen and Cassandra". Going back the the question Cassandra was right but never credible
    – Stormcloud
    Sep 19, 2021 at 16:56
5

He has/is the “hot hand”. The phrase is said to come from basketball.

The "hot hand" (also known as the "hot hand phenomenon" or "hot hand fallacy") was considered a cognitive social bias[1] that a person who experiences a successful outcome has a greater chance of success in further attempts. -wikipedia

This contrasts with “crying wolf” in the sense that credibility is given to someone for an (as yet) uncertain outcome. Note, however, that “crying wolf” isn’t merely a reduction in credibility. Although the semantic range includes those who aren’t believed merely because their predictions keep failing to materialise, it also includes the situation (as in the story behind the phrase) where the assertions are pronounced more for self interest than because the ‘crier’ believes what is being asserted. In the story, the boy continued to cry wolf without a wolf sighting for the fun of watching the efforts of the villagers.

2
  • I have always felt that the villagers who ignored the boy deserved to lose their sheep. Aug 21, 2021 at 8:37
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    I've never heard of a "hot hand" other than at some physical activity. Aug 23, 2021 at 5:12
5

The "crying wolf" metaphor doesn't just refer to any unreliable source of information; for that, we have words like "unreliable". "Crying wolf" is when some signal is discounted (rightly or wrongly) because experience shows a particular reason to doubt that signal.

So, the opposite of this would not simply be any reliable source of information. Arguably the opposite to "crying wolf" is when a signal is believed because experience shows a spurious reason to believe that signal. For instance, someone is considered to be good at picking stocks, but it's just that they like investing in cars, and the car industry happens to have had a run of success. You might refer to such a person as a "busted flush", meaning their apparent ability turned out (or will turn out) to have been illusory.

If the question is how to argue that someone who isn't believed should be believed, then you might say something like "their results speak for themselves", or "they haven't steered us wrong". As @tgdavies says, Cassandra is a common (if melodramatic) metaphor for such a person.

4

I would argue that a word that can describe one who is believed based on numerous past successes is reputation. This isn't exactly an antonym to "the boy who cried wolf" because this phrase is a reference which requires knowledge of a story, analogous to how Captain Picard in "Darmok" meets and learns to communicate with a race who communicate solely through metaphors.

As such, the word reputation can also describe what the boy in the story has. In his case, he has built up a reputation for lying about wolves, which leads to him being disbelieved when he sees an actual wolf. One who has built up a reputation for coming up with crazy seeming theories which turn out to be right will often be believed when they come up with a new theory, simply because of that reputation. Columbo and Monk are two other famous detectives that come to mind, leading me to believe that this is actually a common trope in detective shows.

3

Nothing succeeds like success

A proverb, expressing the idea that success breeds further success.
This view was first put into print by Sir Arthur Helps, in Realmah, 1868:
"Nothing succeeds like success." [Rien ne réussit comme le succès.] phrases.org

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