Of pots and kettles

This kettle can't call anybody black, pic: © Arman Anzanpour | Dreamstime.com

Here is a idiom that sounds quite confusing at first “the pot calling the kettle black”.  For clarification: pots are used for cooking, kettles for boiling water.

This expression is used to accuse a person of being guilty of the very thing they are pointing out and accusing you of or, to put it another way you use this expression if somebody criticizes you for something but he or she is just as much at fault or makes the same mistakes.

Here is an example:

“You should clean up your room, it is a complete mess in there.”

“That’s the pot calling the kettle black – look at your room, you can’t even get in the door.”

The origin of this idiom comes indeed from cooking.  The traditional pots and kettles were made from cast iron which turned black over time especially during times where people still cooked over open fire.  With both the pot and the kettle black, the pot calling the kettle black (in an accusatory way) would be pretty hypocritical and suggests that the pot is not aware of his own characteristics.

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