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Idioms and Phrases with squeaky wheel gets the grease

squeaky wheel gets the grease

The loudest complaints get the most attention, as in No matter what table they give her, Helen generally insists on a better one and gets it—the squeaky wheel gets the grease. The current version of this idiom, with its allusion to a wagon wheel that needs oiling, is ascribed to American humorist Josh Billings (1818–1885) in a poem, “The Kicker”: “I hate to be a kicker [complainer], I always long for peace, But the wheel that does the squeaking Is the one that gets the grease.” However, the idea of the idiom is much older. A manuscript from about 1400 had: “Ever the worst spoke of the cart creaks.” Similar sayings were repeated over the succeeding centuries.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.