Take the log out of your eye and other idioms

Last night while watching Come Dine With Me, I latched on to satirist David Lamb’s shortening of an idiom. He simply used the two words of comparison and said, pot/ kettle Terence, to suggest he had a blind spot.

Then it occurred to me that there are other idioms which could be referred to in this quirky, abbreviated way. So I thought, log/splinter; glass houses/stones.

Know your idioms

This is a way to use colour in your language when you see it coming. It’s a way to express yourself to friends or colleagues when they are blind-sided as to seeing their own short comings. However, you would have to be well versed in idioms to know how to get away with this and hope that the person on the receiving end, was equally au fait.

These idioms: the pot calling the kettle black; people in glass houses should not throw stones and take the log out of your eye before you take the splinter out of mine – all mean the same thing.

In other words, they act as an alert in conversation to say: “Don’t’ judge Arthur for his stinginess when you never pay for drinks when we go out.”

Visual impact

My favourite of these idioms is, “Take the log out of your eye, before you take the splinter out of mine.”  I like it because it has such a strong visual  image. It’s comical and delightful to picture someone with a big chunk of wood poking out of his own eyeball, leaning across to his opponent with a pair of tweezers to remove the splinter wedged in his eye.

This idiom originates from the bible and there are many versions of it. Sometimes the log is referred to as a beam, and the splinter, a speck or a mote.

The freedictionary.com denotes the biblical reference: “The phrase comes from Matthew 7.3-5 Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?’; the implication is that someone is ignoring a glaring fault of their own while criticising a smaller one in someone else.”

What psychology says

And popular psychology has it that we are most irritated by others who display faults that remind us of our own. So, when the bible and psychology are on the same page – if you’ll excuse the pun – then there must be something to it.

Just for today, be careful of judging others for things you are guilty of  yourself.


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Iza Grek

Iza is an award-winning journalist. She has worked in advertising and communications for more than 20 years. A Word or 2 has been in operation since October 2014 and continues to thrive, serving customers writing and editing services across the board from blogs to speeches and e-books.