In my native language, there is this expression - to remember something (an unpleasant, bitter experience of the past) like a snake bite. Are there expressions in English with the similar meaning?

  • I can't think of any good match. Natural ways of expressing this without using an idiomatic expression include, "not remember it fondly", "have bad memories of it". These might help you find expressions with that meaning, if there are any. Also, please consider adding an example or two of situations where it's used in your language. This could help people remember an equivalent English expression
    – gotube
    Jun 1, 2022 at 23:02
  • 1
    @gotube It could be the day when you lost your job or the day when had a nasty car accident or the day when parted with your girlfriend. It could be anything that made that particular day memorable for you in a negative way. The past experience someone had was so unpleasant that it is compared to a snake bite.
    – Beqa
    Jun 1, 2022 at 23:18
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    Got it. Do you want to use this expression in something you're writing? If so, "I remember it like a snake bite" would be a beautiful way to express that in English.
    – gotube
    Jun 2, 2022 at 0:46
  • @gotube No, I don`t. I usually try find idioms or colloquial expressions in English that will match the ones in my native language.
    – Beqa
    Jun 2, 2022 at 12:36

7 Answers 7


Maybe once bitten, twice shy - it means something like "a person who has had a bad experience of something will avoid it in the future".

  • yes, it means that a person has had a bad experience but it does not necessarily imply that he will avoid it in the future. This expression solely focuses on the fact that something happened in the past that a person is recalling the day it happened.
    – Beqa
    Jun 2, 2022 at 12:32

It left a bad taste in my mouth is close, but it only applies to things that people normally remember fondly, but because it didn't go the way they're supposed to, you can't remember it fondly.

For example, you're invited to a friend's house for a party, but when people start going home, your friend asks everyone to pay their share of the costs of hosting.

Something like that would pretty much ruin your memory of that event.

This expression is not about anything that goes wrong, like a picnic getting rained out. It's about situations where someone makes people uncomfortable by handling it wrong, especially by violating social expectations.

  • it is close but no cigar.
    – Beqa
    Jun 1, 2022 at 23:20

There's the idiom be stamped on your memory or be stamped on your mind, which Macmillan defines as "to be impossible to forget, although you would like to".

They give the example: "His face was stamped on Maria’s memory."

It suggests that something has left a permanent imprint in your memory, as with a stamp or brand, and you are permanently marked.


There is an proverb that says

a burnt child dreads the fire Quoting the Farlex Dictionary of Idioms, FreeDictionary says:

Someone who has experienced some kind of negative situation or consequence will try to avoid making the same mistake or experiencing the same situation again.

So the stress here falls rather on learning from bad experiences because you remember it like a burn.


If someone is telling you something and say they don't remember much about it, it is common in English to react to this by saying:

  • I'd remember that! [that=the experience] OR We also often tend to end the sentence with the type of experience or situation:

  • I'd remember if I got kicked out of class!

  • I'd remember my mother falling and hitting her head!

  • I'd remember a snake bite!

  • I'd remember winning the lottery!

So, to answer the question, we don't have a specific idiom for this but we do have a usual ending to express surprise at a situation.


As if it were yesterday

When hearing people people recount accounts of their lives, I often hear this expression.

I remember that as if it were yesterday

  • But there is no negative connotation here (except, maybe, that memory plays tricks on us :).
    – Joachim
    Jul 15, 2022 at 13:26

I would go for the idiom etched on one's memory:

if something is etched on your mind or memory, you can still remember it very clearly, sometimes when you would prefer to forget it (macmillan)

It can be used for both positive and negative memories, depending on context. The stress falls on the vividness of the effect of those particular events.

The verb etch does have the connotation of a sharp, cutting or stinging effect if you want. It means:

to cut a pattern, picture, etc. into a smooth surface, especially on metal or glass, using acid or a sharp instrument:

  • He etched his name on a piece of glass. (Cambridge)

Some even use the expression with skin:

I remember it as if it were etched into my skin.


And I had to work with him, all while my heart was breaking from the inside out over and over and over again, the shattered pieces of glass fading into sand, etching its memories into my skin and into my soul. (Etched in Honor, by Carrie Ann Ryan)

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