Pride Comes Before the Fall - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you bragging to people about something in your life? Don't be surprised if someone whispers, "pride comes before the fall" in your ear to tell you to rethink what you're saying. What does this phrase mean? Are they insulting you?

This post unpacks everything you need to know about this expression. We'll discuss its meaning, origin, and how to use it in conversation.


The meaning of "pride comes before the fall" suggests that people who lead lives filled with hubris at their accomplishments will eventually experience a fall from grace. The expression is a verbal warning against arrogance and pride, and those people that fail to heed the warning will experience failure and loss.

The expression suits several social and professional situations, and you probably hear it all the time in conversations. For example, if someone brags about how they bought into Bitcoin at the $70,000 handle, expecting it to go to the moon, they would feel idiotic as the cryptocurrency crashed to half the value they paid for it.

Example Usage

Tom: "Did you see the way the administration was patting each other's backs about approving the massive spending bill? I'm sure this is going to have an inflationary effect on the economy, but they act like they saved the world from disaster."

Jim: "You know what they say; pride comes before the fall."


Sarah: "Did you see that speaker on the stage talking about how he has the answer to everyone's problems. Like he knows what each individual is going through in their life."

Julie: "Yup, he's full of himself, and pride comes before the fall."


Valerie: "Tony's walking around with his chest puffed out because he closed that lucky deal. Now he's acting like a big shot, even though he has nothing in the pipeline for next month."

Colin: "Ah yes, pride comes before the fall, and he's going to blow up spectacularly next month."

Idiom Origin

The origin of "pride comes before the fall" comes from the first version of the phrase "pride goeth before the fall." However, as we moved away from archaic language, the word "goeth" changed to the more modern format of "go."

It's important to note that both versions of the phrase derive from the biblical passage in Proverbs 16:18, where the King James version reads as follows.

"Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall."

The first appearance of the modern saying in literature comes from the English historian and theologian John Gill in 1810, in his work, "An Exposition of the Old Testament."

While Gill was likely not the originator of the saying, he gets the credit for bringing the phrase into everyday use.

Phrases Similar to Pride Comes Before the Fall

  • Pride goeth before a fall.
  • Pride goeth before destruction.
  • Pride goes before the fall.

Phrases Opposite to Pride Comes Before the Fall

  • Humble and respectful.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Pride comes before the fall.
  • Pride goeth before a fall

Ways People May Say Pride Comes Before the Fall Incorrectly

Some people may use the phrase to describe the physical act of falling. While this might be technically correct, the term applies to the fall being a loss of confidence, trust, or respect, not the act of falling.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Pride Comes Before the Fall

You can use "pride comes before the fall" to describe the hubris and arrogance of others or yourself. Typically, it's more common to use the phrase when talking about other people. The term suits professional and social use, and you probably hear it all the time.

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