Know which side your bread is buttered on

Posted by ESC on February 16, 2003

In Reply to: Know which side your bread is buttered?? posted by R. Berg on February 15, 2003

: : Could somebody please settle this dispute between myself and my wife regarding this old saying?

: : Any contributions to the origin/meaning/etc

: : thanks

: To know which side your bread is buttered on means to know what's advantageous for you and what isn't. It means you know how to select courses of action to pursue, people to cultivate, and so forth that are in your interest and might be useful to you. (Metaphorically, you choose the side with the butter.)

KNOWS WHICH SIDE HIS BREAD IS BUTTERED ON - "Keeps in mind where his interest lies, where his income comes from. Bread is tastier with butter than without it, and one would take pains to see that at least one side was buttered. The saying is old enough to have been included in John Heywood's 'Proverbs' : 'I knowe on whiche syde my breade is buttred.'" From the The Dictionary of Cliches by James Rogers (Wings Books, Originally New York: Facts on File Publications, 1985).