pot calling the kettle black

Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



There are two interpretations of this phrase,[1][2] though some sources give only the first interpretation.[3]

In the first interpretation, it refers to the fact that both cast-iron pots' and kettles' bottoms turn equally black when hung over a fire, and thus the pot is accusing the kettle of a fault it shares.

In the second (unlikely) interpretation, the pot is sooty (being placed on a fire), while the kettle is clean and shiny (being placed on coals only), and hence when the pot accuses the kettle of being black, it is the pot’s own sooty reflection that it sees: the pot accuses the kettle of a fault that only the pot has.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˈpɒt ˈkɔːliŋ ðə ˈkɛtl̩ ˈblæk/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpɑt ˈkɔliŋ ðə ˈkɛtl̩ ˈblæk/
  • (file)
  • (file)


pot calling the kettle black

  1. (idiomatic) A situation in which somebody comments on or accuses someone else of a fault which the accuser shares.
    I think it's a case of the pot calling the kettle black when she says he is obsessive.


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, by William Morris, Mary Morris
  2. ^ Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1870, revised by Adrian Room (Millennium Edition)
  3. ^ Pot, in Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, by E. Cobham Brewer, 1898 edition
  4. ^ Brewer, E. Cobham (1898), “Pot”, in (please provide the title of the work)[1], 2nd edition edition, Philadelphia: Henry Altemus Company, retrieved 2007-11-17
  5. ^ (Kiddushin 70a)
  6. ^ (Arachin 16b; also paraphrased in Matthew 7:3-5)
  7. ^ “Patarles.lt”, in (please provide the title of the work)[2], accessed 10 September 2012, archived from the original on 24 July 2012
  8. ^ http://www.ordtak.no/index.php?fn=Nordiske&en=ordtak
  9. ^ Tebyan
  10. ^ Naver
  11. ^ Naver
  12. ^ thai-language.com, look up อิเหนา