We have a proverb in Bengali, if I translate it directly into English, it emerges as:

Who is in there in the temple? I did not eat the banana!

Meaning in the temple banana is used for prayer to the God. So stealing banana from temple is very bad. But the person who steals always wants to pretend that he is not responsible for that. But he has the fear in his heart. So if anybody enquires anybody, other than him, as to who has stolen the banana, the thief speaks the first(albeit he is not asked!) that he did not do anything indicating he is the thief! The whole proverb, in a short, signifies that who has done the wrong, speaks the first when asked to others, revealing he is the doer. So what might be the proverb in English or expression to express the same meaning?

  • In elevators and grammar school classes, kids frequently ask "Who cut the cheese?", which means "Who farted?" It's not a proverb, just a question. It's usually the guy who did it who asks. Never believe anyone who says "It wasn't me!" or "Trust me". They are usually lying.
    – user21497
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 3:51
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    A vulgar saying goes: “Those who smelt it dealt it.” Among a group of guy friends the first person who acknowledges a fart happened is “logically” the one most likely to have did it, and thus everyone else can just invoke innocence simply because they were not the first one to acknowledge. It’s jocular humor. (Oops – similar to Bill Franke)
    – ipso
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 4:00
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    The proverb which I have written originally is also funny in meaning!
    – Mistu4u
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 4:26
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    @ipso Interesting - reminds me of the (somewhat childish and vulgar) Afrikaans saying: "Eerste geruik het sy gaatjie gebruik," meaning more or less, "the one who smelled the fart first is the one who used his a**hole." Some things are universal I suppose! :)
    – Wolfie Inu
    Commented Nov 3, 2015 at 7:46
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    "The Guilty Flee when None Pursue" is another variation of theis kind of proverb, I think. There may be an 'eth' in there (no man persueth?)...but I think the point comes across well enough
    – Megha
    Commented Jun 16, 2016 at 0:32

4 Answers 4


Here is a related line from Shakespeare that has become idiomatic:

The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

It comes from Hamlet and you can read all about it here. As the Wikipedia article suggests, it has come to mean that one can "insist so passionately about something not being true that people suspect the opposite of what one is saying."

I have heard it in many forms, such as "methinks the lady doth protest too much," "the lady protesteth too much," or more simply "she/he protests too much."

  • 10
    Bingo! How embarrassing. I used a fart phrase ^ instead of that, which is a reference I use all the time. Oh the shame... It was that damn banana that did it!
    – ipso
    Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 4:55

The following proverb is a close enough fit to the situation described by the OP:

He who excuses himself, accuses himself.

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    This one isn't really "English" - it's translated from French. I don't often hear it in English, but even people who speak very little French sometimes say "Qui s'excuse, s'accuse". I think the problem with the English version is that to excuse oneself normally means to apologise for leaving the present company early. Commented Jan 1, 2013 at 13:35

The below proverb means that, a guilty person knows that he is guilty and no one needs to tell him that.

A guilty conscience needs no accuser.


Not a proverb, but I'm thinking of "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allen Poe, a short story about a guilty conscience leading someone to confess.

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