Dictionary.com

You can't teach an old dog new tricks

Save This Word!

People who have long been used to doing things in a particular way will not abandon their habits. (Compare It's never too late to mend.)

QUIZ
SHALL WE PLAY A "SHALL" VS. "SHOULD" CHALLENGE?
Should you take this quiz on “shall” versus “should”? It should prove to be a quick challenge!
Question 1 of 6
Which form is used to state an obligation or duty someone has?
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.

MORE ABOUT YOU CAN'T TEACH AN OLD DOG NEW TRICKS

What does You can’t teach an old dog new tricks mean?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks is a proverb that means people are often reluctant or unwilling to change old habits or long-held beliefs.

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks is often used to describe a person who is set in their ways and is resistant to change or adaptation, as in I tried to convince my dad to use online banking, but I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 

You can also use this phrase to describe yourself (self-awareness is a good thing!), as in I just can’t get into this new music genre. I guess you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. 

Example: My grandfather loves to use smartphones, so maybe it isn’t true that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Where does You can’t teach an old dog new tricks come from?

The first records of the phrase You can’t teach an old dog new tricks come from around 1636. It’s a variation of the It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks. That phrase comes from John Fitzherbert’s Book of Husbandry (1523), where it was used literally to refer to the difficulty of teaching an old dog a new skill.

Both You can’t teach an old dog new tricks and the older It is hard to teach and old dog new tricks allude to the tendency for older dogs to have more difficulty learning tricks and skills than younger dogs. It may be more challenging, but it is still possible to teach old dogs new tricks.

Although it mentions an “old dog,” the phrase you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is used to refer to people of any age who resist change or new possibilities. The phrase is typically used to mean a person doesn’t want to change due to habit or stubbornness rather than anything to do with their age.

Did you know … ?

What are some words that share a root or word element with You can’t teach an old dog new tricks

What are some words that often get used in discussing You can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

How is You can’t teach an old dog new tricks used in real life?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks is a common phrase that refers to a person being unwilling or unable to change their old habits or learn new things.

Try using You can’t teach an old dog new tricks!

True or False?

The phrase you can’t teach an old dog new tricks means people often prefer to stick to old habits rather than learn new things.

How to use You can't teach an old dog new tricks in a sentence

FEEDBACK