know which side of one's bread is buttered


Be aware of where one's best interests lie, as in Jerry always helps out his boss; he knows which side of his bread is buttered. This expression alludes to the more favorable, or buttered, side of bread and has been used metaphorically since the early 1500s.

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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.