since 1997, the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English


Sayings based on badness. Select a saying for more details. Also try Badness Sayings Quiz.

A bad penny always turns up

Bad or nasty people have a habit of showing up or returning.

Give a thief enough rope and he'll hang himself

A bad person will sooner or later be the cause of his own downfall.

He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon

If you eat with the devil, you need a (very) long spoon so that you can keep your distance. If you mix with bad people, you should be careful not to be influenced by them. A warning not to get too close when dealing with evil people.

Never do evil that good may come of it

Do not do something bad to achieve something good.

One might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb

If you are going to be killed for stealing a lamb, then why not steal a sheep (which is bigger and more valuable)? In general, it means that if you are going to get the same punishment, you may as well commit the greater offence.

The end justifies the means

If our objective is good, then it doesn't matter if the way we achieve it is bad or wrong or evil.

The greater the sinner, the greater the saint

1) If a bad person can become good, a very bad person can become very good. Someone with great energy for doing bad, may, when he chooses, apply it equally to doing good. 2) Converts are the most zealous. In a day-to-day sense, for example, someone who has given up smoking may preach more about the virtues of not smoking than someone who never smoked.

The wages of sin is death

If we sin we die. ("Death" here refers not to physical death but to spiritual death or eternal damnation.)

They that sow the wind shall reap the whirlwind

A warning that we must expect to suffer serious consequences as the result of our own bad actions. We get back what we give out.

Two wrongs do not make a right

If somebody does something bad to you, it will not make things ok if you do something bad to them in return.
These are traditional English sayings and proverbs about badness and evil.

Also try Badness Sayings Quiz.

Contributor: Josef Essberger