know better (third-person singular simple present knows better, present participle knowing better, simple past knew better, past participle known better)
- (set phrase) To recognize that a statement or belief is false or doubtful; to understand that certain behavior is wrongful, futile, or inappropriate.
- 1841, Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, ch. 54:
- "No, no, Johnny," returned Solomon, looking round upon the little circle of which he formed a part: "We all know better than that."
- 1919, H. H. Munro, "Hyacinth" in The Toys of Peace and Other Papers:
- "All that happened when he was eight; he's older now and knows better."
- 1987 April 24, Bruce Lambert, "Operator of Newsstands Guilty in Sales Tax Case," New York Times (retrieved 19 May 2015):
- "Kapoor Brothers told us they had no books or records, but we knew better and were able to search and find them."
- 2010 March 8, Tony Karon, "Israelis and Palestinians: Agreeing to Talk, and to Fail," Time (retrieved 19 May 2015):
- [B]oth sides know better than to expect that U.S. special envoy Senator George Mitchell's shuttling between Jerusalem and Ramallah will be able to bridge the chasm between their demands.
- Sometimes used without further explication and sometimes used with than followed by a description of the belief or behavior, as in "He knows better than to take what does not belong to him".