revenge is a dish best served cold

English edit

Etymology edit

Earliest known metaphorical reference to revenge as food in English is “And then revenge is very good eaten cold, as the vulgar say”, from a 1846 translation of Eugène Sue's Mathilde: Mémoires d'une Jeune Femme.[1][2] The passage suggests that it was an existing expression. Similar proverbs are known as early as the 17th century with “Reuenge is not good in cold bloud” in a translation of Don Quixote.[3]

The phrase exists in various Romance languages: Italian la vendetta è un piatto che va servito freddo, Spanish la venganza es un plato que se sirve frío, French la vengeance est un plat qui se mange froid. In French, it's commonly used since at least the 19th century.

In English, many variations are attested but the exact phrase revenge is a dish best served cold may originate from the 1982 film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.[4]

Proverb edit

revenge is a dish best served cold

  1. Revenge is best or most satisfying when delayed.
    • 1949, Robert Hamer, John Dighton, Kind Hearts and Coronets, spoken by Louis Mazzini (Dennis Price):
      Time had brought me revenge on Lionel, and as the Italian proverb says, revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold.
    • 1969, Mario Puzo, The Godfather, New York, page 404:
      Don Corleone nodded. “Revenge is a dish that tastes best when it is cold,” he said.
    • 1982, Jack B. Sowards, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, spoken by Khan (Ricardo Montalbán):
      Of course! We are one big, happy fleet! Ah, Kirk, my old friend, do you know the Klingon proverb that tells us revenge is a dish that is best served cold?

Translations edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ Eugène Sue (1864), “XXXV, Revelations”, in , D. G. Osborne, transl., The Orphan, or Memoirs of Matilda[1], volume 1, illustrated by Robert Cruikshank, London: T. C. Newby, page 303
  2. ^ The citation for the passage in the original French work is: Eugène Sue; Jean Cavalier, et al. (1841), “XVII, Révélations [XVII, Revelations]”, in Mathilde: Mémoires d'une Jeune Femme [Mathilde: Memoirs of a Young Woman]‎[2] (in French), volume 3, third edition, Paris: Librairie de Charles Gosselin, page 53: “Et puis la vengeance se mange très-bien froide, comme on dit vulgairement”
  3. ^ Jennifer Speake, editor (2015), “REVENGE is a dish that can be eaten cold”, in Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, 6th edition, Oxford University Press, →OCLC, page 265: “Vengeance need not be exacted immediately; but cf. 1620 ᴛ. ꜱʜᴇʟᴛᴏɴ tr. Cervantes' Don Quixote ɪɪ. lxiii. Reuenge is not good in cold bloud.”
  4. ^ Gary Martin (1997–), “Revenge is a dish best served cold”, in The Phrase Finder.