The phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” sounds like something you might hear in a court of law. It just sounds authoritative and judicial. However, if that is what you are thinking about the meaning of this phrase, you would not be correct. Here you will find the actual meaning of this idiom, the information about its origin, and some example sentences and conversations that illustrate its proper usage. You will also discover some alternative words and phrases that are synonymous with this idiomatic phrase that you can use interchangeably to convey the same meaning.
Familiarity Breeds Contempt
Familiarity Breeds Contempt Meaning
The idiom “familiarity breed contempt” means knowing too much about something or someone can eventually lead you to feel resentment towards that specific thing or person.
Origin of this idiomatic phrase
The general meaning of the idiom can is much older than its first recorded usage. However, the first recorded usage of this exact phrase was by the author Chaucer in The Tale of Melibee which was published in 1386.
“Familiarity Breeds Contempt” Examples
- Sometimes getting to know someone well is not a good thing; familiarity breeds contempt.
- Familiarity breeds contempt, especially during stressful or dramatic situations.
A conversation between mother and daughter.
- Mother: Make sure you get to know someone well before deciding to marry them.
- Daughter: You only knew dad for a few months before accepting his proposal.
- Mother: You are right and as I got to know him over the years we grew apart.
- Daughter: Why is that?
- Mother: Because familiarity breeds contempt.
A discussion between two co-workers.
- Co-worker 1: I hate this job!
- Co-worker 2: You used to love it. What happened?
- Co-worker 1: Nothing specific. Familiarity breeds contempt though.
Alternatives to “Familiarity Breeds Contempt”
There are several other ways to say the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt.” Some of the other words or phrases you could use to express the same meaning as this phrase include:
- The longer you’re involved in a situation, the more disdain grows
- The more you get to know someone and their habits, resentment can set in
- The more you get to know someone, the more likely we are to find fault with them