Is there a term or an idiom for something similar to pointing at somebody else's weakness when that person has the same weakness?

  • Just to be clear about the question: do you mean to imply that the person pointing out the fault does not acknowledge their own fault?
    – David K
    Aug 28, 2016 at 15:19
  • 1
    Don't throw rocks if you work in a glass office building. Aug 28, 2016 at 19:07

5 Answers 5


An apt English idiom in this context is:

The pot calling the kettle "black."

The Dictionary.com entry tells us:

Criticizing others for the very fault one possesses: “I wouldn't call him lazy if I were you, Andy; that would be the pot calling the kettle black.”

  • This was exactly what i was looking for!
    – Amy Cohen
    Aug 28, 2016 at 6:33
  • Happy to be of service, Ms Cohen. Aug 28, 2016 at 6:33
  • Although perfectly apt for the situation, I don't see this being used widely in practice.
    – Ébe Isaac
    Aug 28, 2016 at 8:03
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    @ÉbeIsaac Among native English speakers, it is a widely known expresssion, and in common use in exactly the context described by the O.P. Aug 28, 2016 at 8:06
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    @ÉbeIsaac:I agree with P.E. I would say that this is a very widely used idiom. You will even hear it in reduced forms, like "Pot -- meet Kettle".
    – TonyK
    Aug 28, 2016 at 10:51

Throwing stones in a glass house


Live in a glass house

One who is open to criticism should not criticize others, as in "It's stupid of Mike to mention his opponent's accepting donations from lobbyists — people who live in glass houses!" This proverb is so well known that it is often shortened.

Source: Dictionary.com (emphasis mine)

Criticizing other people for bad qualities in their character that you have yourself.

Source: Cambridge Dictionary

Criticizing other people for having the same faults that you yourself have.

Source: The Free Dictionary

Complaining about others if we are as bad as they are.

Source: Dictionary.com

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    The full phrase is "People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones."
    – mweiss
    Aug 29, 2016 at 0:31

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Although this would indicate that the one who points out somebody else's weakness, not only has the same weakness, but has it with an even greater magnitude.

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    It might be germane to mention that this is a quote from the New Testament.
    – mweiss
    Aug 29, 2016 at 0:32

The generic term for that is hypocrisy.

hypocrite (noun)
- 1. a person who pretends to have virtues, moral or religious beliefs, principles, etc., that he or she does not actually possess, especially a person whose actions belie stated beliefs.

It actually has a couple of definitions but this is used to term the person considered in practice. If a person states weakness in others which he/she actually possess, then conversely he/she is giving a false impression of a strength that he/she does not possess.

  • 3
    This doesn't necessarily fit with the info given in the question. If I point out weaknesses in others that I see as a weakness specifically because I possess that same weakness and acknowledge that, then the accepted answer of the pot calling the kettle black does apply, but I'm no hypocrite for it.
    – hvd
    Aug 28, 2016 at 9:45
  • @hvd The "pot kettle black" phrase also has a connotation that the person in question is ignoring their own faults. (I know it's not logically implied by the analogy, but that's the way it's used.) Either of these choices is inappropriate for the situation you describe.
    – David K
    Aug 28, 2016 at 15:16
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    @DavidK That's not implied by the expression itself, but can be by how it's used. It can be used without that implication as well: "I know this is the pot calling the kettle black, but ..."
    – hvd
    Aug 28, 2016 at 15:36
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    @hvd Part of the meaning of such an expression is the context in which it is typically used. It is, of course, possible to undermine the meaning of one's own words when using them self-referentially, such as in "I know I'm being hypocritical here, but ..." (to introduce a statement that is not hypocritical since the fault is implicitly acknowledged) or "not to be pedantic, but ..." (to introduce a statement that is pedantic).
    – David K
    Aug 28, 2016 at 16:01

The Mote and the Beam

The Mote and the Beam (also called discourse on judgmentalism) is a proverbial saying of Jesus given in the Sermon on the Mount.[1] in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 7, verses 1 to 5. The discourse is fairly brief, and begins by warning his followers of the dangers of judging others, stating that they too would be judged by the same standard.


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