add insult to injury

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Derived from the fables of Phaedrus in the first century C.E.. The story was of a bald man who swats at a fly which has just landed on his head, but instead hits himself on the head. The fly comments, "You wished to kill me for a touch. What will you do to yourself since you have added insult to injury?" The actual wording appears in English from the middle of the 18th century. This etymology is incomplete. You can help Wiktionary by elaborating on the origins of this term. This seems to be a calque. What is the original?


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add insult to injury (third-person singular simple present adds insult to injury, present participle adding insult to injury, simple past and past participle added insult to injury)

  1. (idiomatic) To further a loss with mockery or indignity; to worsen an already unfavourable situation.
    As if the hostile takeover weren't enough, to add insult to injury they scrapped ninety percent of our products and replaced them with their own.
    • 2012, Andrew Martin, Underground Overground: A passenger's history of the Tube, Profile Books, →ISBN, page 52:
      [...] the line crossed over an iron bridge spanning Ludgate Hill itself [...] neatly obliterating any view of St Paul's from Ludgate Circus and Fleet Street. A thousand people had put their names to a petition against the bridge. To add insult to injury it carried a small thicket of railway signals as well as regular steam trains.

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See Thesaurus:make matters worse

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