The idiomatic phrase “do as I say, not as I do” may be a phrase you encounter often in everyday conversation and writing. Below you will see the meaning of this phrase and information regarding its origin. You will also see some sample statements and conversations that will help you to properly use this phrase as a part of your everyday communication and you will discover different ways to state the phrase while still conveying the same meaning.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
“Do As I Say, Not As I Do” Meaning
The phrase “do as I say, not as I do” means to pay more attention to someone’s words and do what they are telling you to do rather than mimicking their actions. It means the speaker is aware of their mistakes and admits their imperfections.
Origin of this Idiom
The origin of the phrase “do as I say, not as I do” actually came from the Bible, from the book of Matthew, verses 1 to 3. The verses state the same meaning of this phrase, just in different words. Since then, different wording has been used to present this same principle throughout history. The first appearance of the actual phrasing “do as I say, not as I do” can be found in the book Table Talk written by author John Selden in 1654, published after his death in 1689.
Alternatives for “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”
Some alternative things you could say instead of this idiom include:
- Don’t do what I am doing or have done, do it differently
- Do what I say and pay no attention to my actions
- My actions do not speak louder than my words
“Do As I Say, Not As I Do” Examples
A statement made by a celebrity during an interview for a well-known entertainment magazine.
- “My mother always told me growing up to do as I say, not as I do. This was sound advice and it is advice that I pass on to my children today.”
A statement made by a recovering drug addict.
- “I encourage people every day to do as I say, not as I do. No one needs to know what it is like to go through this and to put your family through this.”
A conversation between an older sister and her little sister.
- Little Sister: I am so glad you are back home.
- Big Sister: I am happy to be home too. I have missed you all so much!
- Little Sister: Are you all better now?
- Big Sister: I think so, but its a struggle every day for me.
- Little Sister: Well, I will help you however I can.
- Big Sister: The biggest help and comfort you can give me is to tell me that you will always do as I say, not as I do. Then I will know for certain you will never have to go through this pain or put mom and dad through it again either.
A conversation between a father and his son.
- Father: I heard you got caught skipping school today.
- Son: Yeah. Fifth period is so boring and I just wanted to leave. So, I and a few friends decided to ditch after lunch.
- Father: You can’t cut school!
- Son: I hear you tell stories about how you cut school all the time, Dad!
- Father: Do as I say, not as I do!
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