Don’t Get Mad Get Even – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Is a friend upset about someone doing them wrong? You could tell them, "Don't get mad; get even." This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The proverbial expression "don't get mad, get even" means that you shouldn't waste your energy wrestling with feelings of anger over what someone did to you. If someone does you wrong, it's better to take action and get revenge on them.

Being angry doesn't do anything other than make you feel worse. By taking action and getting revenge on the person, you transfer that aggression to them.

Example Usage

"I know you're stewing in anger right now after she did that to you, but don't get mad; get even. Take it to her and let her know how you feel."

"Don't get mad. Get even. There's no point in sitting around feeling angry. Get up and do something about it. You'll feel way better."

"I know you're feeling angry, but don't get mad; get even. If you let people walk all over you in life, they'll keep doing it until you retaliate.'

"Kim was disappointed about how she was treated in the schoolyard. I told her don't get mad, get even. Tomorrow she should go up to that bully and punch her in the face."

"Haven't you heard that saying, 'don't get mad, get even?' There's no point in getting angry; it doesn't benefit you. Get your revenge instead."

"I don't get mad. I get even. Don't cross me, or you'll regret it, I promise. Take that nonsense and try it on someone else; I'm not your victim."

"There's no way I'm letting you get away with that. I don't get mad. I get even. You better think twice before you try that nonsense with me."


The expression "don't get mad, get even" originates from the former president of the United States, John F. Kennedy. He used the phrase during an interview with journalist Ben Bradlee, published in 1975 as part of the "Conversations with Kennedy" series, where it appears as follows.

"Some of the reasons have their roots in that wonderful law of the Boston Irish political jungle: 'Don't get mad; get even.'"

The phrase was well used during Kennedy's lifetime, before his assassination in 1963. A spokesperson for the Democratic party, Carmine Warschaw, used the saying in a speech appearing in the California newspaper, "The Valley Times," in February 1965, where it reads as follows.

"Mrs. Warschaw introduced the congressmen and elected officials who attended the dinner. Regarding some Democratic losses, she had this advice: 'Don't get mad... just get even.'"

Phrases Similar to Don’t Get Mad Get Even

  • Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Phrases Opposite to Don’t Get Mad Get Even

  • Accept it for what it is.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Don’t get mad, get even.

Ways People May Say Don’t Get Mad Get Even Incorrectly

The phrase "don't get mad, get even" is another way of telling someone to take revenge. However, it's rarely used in a menacing manner where you would act out physical or mental harm to someone else that did you wrong in life.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Don't Get Mad, Get Even

You can use the expression "don't get mad, get even" when talking to friends about their hard times in life. You can use the phrase if someone does them wrong, telling them to take revenge on the other person or entity responsible for their suffering.

The phrase suits social and professional situations. You can use it with your friends when one of them does you wrong. You could say, "I don't get mad; I get even." Or you could use it when your colleague at work tells you how the boss did them wrong, and you feel they should enact their revenge on them. It's a way of saying that acting out revenge is the better option rather than stewing in anger.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *