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it takes one to know one

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The person who expressed criticism has similar faults to the person being criticized. This classic retort to an insult dates from the early 1900s. For example, You say she's a terrible cook? It takes one to know one! For a synonym, see pot calling the kettle black. A near equivalent is the proverbial it takes a thief to catch a thief, meaning “no one is better at finding a wrongdoer than another wrongdoer.” First recorded in 1665, it remains current.

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

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