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cruel to be kind

To be “cruel to be kind” is to cause someone pain for his or her own good. The phrase is used by Hamlet after he has berated his mother for her infidelity to the memory of her deceased husband.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.