Pot Calling the Kettle Black


What does Pot Calling the Kettle Black mean?

Pot calling the kettle black is an idiomatic phrase, reflecting on hypocrisy and psychological projection.

Both the pot and the kettle are black, due to them being hung over fire, getting sooty, meaning that the “pot calling the kettle black” is in denial about their own filthiness, projecting it to someone else.

The expression is used to draw attention to the hypocrisy of someone.


What's the origin of Pot Calling the Kettle Black?

The idea of the idiom has appeared already in the 1606 work of Shakespeare; “Troilus and Cressida” as “the raven chides blackness”.

“Pot calling the kettle black” was first used in such a form by Thomas Shelton in his 1620 translation of Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”.

Spread & Usage

How did Pot Calling the Kettle Black spread?

Over the years, the expression became widely used all across the Anglophone world, calling out the hypocrisy of others.

It has appeared in various literary and cinematographic contexts over the centuries.

“Pot calling the kettle black” was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2004.

External resources

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