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The meaning and origin of the expression: The pot calling the kettle black

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The pot calling the kettle black

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Meaning

The notion of a criticism a person is making of another could equally well apply to themself.

Origin

This phrase originates in Cervantes' Don Quixote, or at least in Thomas Shelton's 1620 translation - Cervantes Saavedra's History of Don Quixote:

"You are like what is said that the frying-pan said to the kettle, 'Avant, black-browes'."

The first person who is recorded as using the phrase in English was William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania, in his Some fruits of solitude, 1693:

"For a Covetous Man to inveigh against Prodigality... is for the Pot to call the Kettle black."

Shakespeare had previously expressed a similar notion in a line in Troilus and Cressida, 1606:

"The raven chides blackness."