rod for one's back

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Noun[edit]

a rod for one's back

  1. (idiomatic) The means of one's own punishment or downfall.
    • 1866, Henry Kingsley, "Silcote of Silcotes", MacMillan's Magazine, Vol. 14, Sept., p. 324:
      "Silcote, you are making a rod for your back in your treatment of that child. She'll live to break your heart for you."
    • 1997 Oct. 4, John Williams, "Blair Maps Out Party's Long March," The Mirror (UK):
      Nobody is more wary of Tony Blair's record ratings and the illusion of the Prime Minister's omnipotence than Tony Blair himself. "He thinks his approval ratings are a rod for his back," says one adviser.
    • 2009 Feb. 2, Dita De Boni, "Keeping Mum: Sparing the Rod?," New Zealand Herald:
      I can't get over how you parents let your children run riot over you. There must be some discipline in this surely, otherwise you will make a rod for your back when they get older.

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