the chickens come home to roost

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19th century. First attested as lies, like chickens, come home to roost, although the slightly later curses, like chickens, come home to roost was more common. Both are often said to be Spanish or Turkish in origin. The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs notes that Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in The Parson's Tale: “And ofte tyme swich cursynge wrongfully retorneth agayn to hym that curseth, as a bryd that retorneth agayn to his owene nest.”[1]


the chickens come home to roost

  1. (idiomatic) A person's past wrongdoings will return to negatively affect them.
    • 1846, Lydia Maria Child, The Mother's Book, C.S. Francis & Co. (6th ed., 1st ed. from 1844), page 98.
      Never were truer words than the Spanish proverb, ‘All lies, like chickens, come home to roost.’
    Opponents see the latest indictments as a case of the chickens coming home to roost.


  1. ^ John Simpson & Jennifer Speake, The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, OUP (2008, 5th ed.), ISBN 9780199539536.