A dose of his own medicine

中国日报网 2014-07-25 10:54



A dose of his own medicine

Reader question:

Please explain this sentence: “The person laying poisoned meat to kill dogs should be killed with a dose of his own medicine.”

My comments:

The speaker means to say that the person who kills those dogs should be fed the same thing – poisoned meat.

That’s taking it literally, of course. How can anyone even contemplate feeding someone poisoned food? Then again, how can anyone contemplate feeding dogs with poisoned meat in the first place?

I’m sure the speaker just wants to teach him a lesson.

Anyways, giving someone a dose of his or her own medicine means teaching him/her a lesson by doing to him/her exactly the same thing he/she has done to others.

Let me give you a more innocuous example. Back in school, one boy in my class was particularly fond of playing pranks and tricks on us. And one of the things he did a lot was hiding people’s bicycle keys during the class and later enjoying the spectacle of their owners sweating it out trying to find them.

Anyways, one of these days this person’s own bicycle key was seen lying idly on his desk.

You guessed it. We hid it immediately to see how he liked the taste of his own medicine.

Giving someone a dose or taste of their own medicine is probably an idiom inspired by a story in Aesop’s Fables. In the fable, a cobbler who’s not very good at making or repairing shoes finds himself losing business. So he roams to another town where he is unknown and starts a new practice as a medical doctor specializing in an antidote to curing all poisons.

The long and short of it is that one day, the cobbler or doctor gets ill and the people try to feed him the medicine he’s been dishing out to others.

The doctor refuses to eat it, finally admitting that his medicines are all fakes and that he is a shoe repairer by trade.

All right, here are media examples of more recent cases where people are fed a dose of their own medicine, meaning they’re receiving the bad treatment they’ve been giving others:

1. The Iraqi journalist who threw his shoes at President George W. Bush in Baghdad last year had a taste of his own medicine Tuesday when he nearly got beaned by a shoe thrower at a news conference in Paris.

Muntadhar al-Zeidi ducked and the shoe hit the wall behind him.

“He stole my technique,” al-Zeidi later quipped.

The identity of the new shoe-thrower — and his motivation — weren’t immediately clear, but he appeared to be an Iraqi. It was not known if the intruder was a journalist or just pretended to be one to attend the news conference at a center for foreign reporters.

Whatever his motive, the confrontation didn’t stop there.

Al-Zeidi’s brother, Maithan, chased the attacker in the audience and — what else? — pelted him with a shoe as he left the room.

- Iraqi Shoe Thrower Gets a Taste of His Own Medicine, AP, December 2, 2009.

2. Whoa! Cheating alert! Was Lindsey Vonn just caught cheating on boyfriend Tiger Woods?! The stunning Olympic skier, 28, was spotted locking lips with someone other than the world’s top golfer, 37, just a few weeks ago, according to a new report.

Earlier this year on March 2013, we found out both athletes were an item, Vonn has been a major supporter of Woods appearing at several events throughout his tour.

She was married to fellow Olympian skier Thomas Vonn, they tied the knot in 2007 but after only four years of marriage they decided to split; their divorce was finalized in Jan 2013 giving Vonn the legal freedom to start a new relationship. That’s were Tiger gets in the picture.

Woods whose golfing skills and cheating ways have been equally notorious could be getting a taste of his own medicine, according to The National Enquirer; the blonde allegedly hooked up with an “older hunk” while being a Justin Timberlake and Jay Z concert in Miami, just a few weeks ago!

- Who is the Man Lindsey Vonn is cheating on Tiger Woods With? Fabwags.com, September 11, 2013.

3. A belligerent bus rider who was caught on camera harassing a pair of senior citizens received a taste of his own medicine.

In a video posted to LiveLeak, a man can be heard verbally assaulting a woman, who was sitting in the bus’ priority seating.

He uses extremely graphic and sexually explicit language before moving closer to the woman.

Another rider, a man with a cane, stands up to defend the woman and the attacker attempts to throw the first punch.

However, other bus riders watching the whole attack stepped in to help.

The attacker was repeatedly punched before being pushed out of the bus.

- Belligerent bus rider allegedly harasses woman, gets taste of own medicine, KFOR.com, April 22, 2014.




About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.



Kicking the can down the road?

Food chain?

Follow the money?

Behind the eight ball again?

Reading the riot act?

Keep his power dry?


(作者张欣 中国日报网英语点津 编辑:陈丹妮)


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