Fool Me Once: What does “Fool Me Once, Shame On You” Mean?

The phrase “fool me once” is one you may see or hear used in everyday conversation and writing. Here you will find the meaning of this phrase and the information available concerning its origin. You will also find some examples of how to properly use this phrase in conversations/statements and see some suggestions regarding alternative ways you can say this phrase while still conveying the same meaning.

Fool Me Once, Shame On You

Fool Me Once, Shame On You Meaning

The phrase “fool me once” means that you fell for the same deceit twice, but should have seen it coming the second time.

The phrase “fool me once, shame on you” means that if you fall for someone’s lies the first time then they should be ashamed of their deceit and they are the fool. They are at fault and are fully to blame.

Origin of this helpful idiom

The phrase “fool me once” is a shortened version of a longer phrase. The long version of the phrase is “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The phrase is so popular that almost everyone knows it without having to say the whole thing and the meaning of the entire phrase is implied by the short “fool me once” phrase. Although the phrase is probably much older, the first appearance of the phrase that can be documented was in 1651 in a book titled The Court and Character of King James by author Anthony Weldon.

“Fool Me Once Shame On You” Examples

Examples in Statements

A statement made by a celebrity during a recent interview for an entertainment magazine.

  • “I can’t believe that I fell for his charm again and he did me like that. All I can say is fool me once…”

A statement made by a police officer about a recent arrest.

  • “All I know is I won’t be one of those people saying fool me once. If I have evidence you broke the law, I am arresting you. You can give your excuses to the judge.”

A statement made by a police officer after a controversial arrest.

  • “I made the decision I had to because he was acting suspiciously. As they say Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice shame on me. I was not about to be made to look a fool.”

A statement made by a celebrity after falling for a bad contract.

  • “In the past, I have signed some really bad contracts that didn’t have my best interest in my mind. That is why I now do everything through my manager. It’s a more involved process, but it’s for the best. Fool me once, shame on you etc. and I refuse to be made a fool.”

Examples in Conversations

A conversation between two friends discussing relationships.

  • Friend 1: I cannot believe Nathan cheated on me again.
  • Friend 2: I can! Once a cheater, always a cheater! I told you that!
  • Friend 1: Yeah, I know. I guess all I can say now is fool me once… you know the rest.

A conversation between two managers deciding what to do about an employee.

  • Manager 1: So, you have evidence that she stole money from the register.
  • Manager 2: Yes. It was caught on the store’s security cameras and one of our other employees saw her do it as well.
  • Manager 1: Then we have no choice but to fire her. I am not gonna be one of those fool me once people.

A conversation between a mother and son.

  • Mother: Were you home by curfew last night?
  • Son: Of course, I was.
  • Mother: Sure you were. I am not falling for that again. Fool me once, shame on you… I am not about to be a fool.
  • Son: Okay okay! I was like 10 mins late.
  • Mother: I know. I was still awake when you came in, You’re grounded for a month.

A conversation between a brother and a sister.

  • Brother: Oh my gosh sis! There is a big spider on your arm!
  • Sister: I am not falling for that again! Fool me once, once on you!

Other Ways to Say “Fool Me Once”

There are many other ways to say the phrase “fool me once” and still convey the same meaning. Some of these other ways include:

  • I can’t believe I fell for the same thing twice
  • I’m twice the fool
  • The first time I was fooled it was his/her fault, but this time it is mine.

There are several alternative ways to say “Fool me once, shame on you.” Some of the things you could choose to say instead include:

  • Deceive me once and it is your fault
  • Lie to me once and it is your fault
  • Play me for a fool once and it is your fault

Fool Me Once Shame On You | Picture


Fool Me Once