know on which side bread is buttered
know on which side one’s bread is buttered,
also, know what side one’s bread is buttered on
- know what is to one’s advantage
- to be aware of where your interests lie and who you should support to achieve something greater
- to know who is helpful to you and how you should act to get what you want
- to also understand what benefits you and who you should put your energy behind to get those benefits or advantages
- She’s far too clever to irritate her employer as she knows which side her bread is buttered on.
- John gave his boss a gift last week because he knows which side his bread is buttered.
- Jenny supported a different political candidate because she knows which side her bread is buttered.
- Since Amy knows which side her bread is buttered on, she’s always so nice to customers.
- “The trouble with you, John, is you don’t know on which side your bread is buttered.”
- My daddy is going to make sure I know what side my bread is buttered on.
- I know which side my bread is buttered on, so I truly value my mom’s support.
The origin of this idiom comes as early as the mid-1500s. And it was first recorded by John Heywood. He referenced the phrase in his glossary A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of all the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue (published in 1546):
“I knowe on whiche syde my breade is buttred.”
The phrase’s origin comes from a time when people depended on others to survive and needed to work as a whole to make sure their way of life wasn’t harmed. Ultimately because these people relied on someone else to live, there wasn’t room to be independent and self-serving because those around you may just help you out in the end.
The conception of this idiom “Know which side your bread is buttered,” came from a time where people needed to know exactly where their interests lie and who to support, mainly if their next meal depended on it.