It Takes One To Know One


Senior Member
Standard American English
The person who expressed criticism has similar faults to the person being criticized. Here are some examples.

1. President Joe Biden has called Vladimir Putin a killer. Putin responds, "It takes one to know one."
2. Yuri says that Tanya is a terrible cook. Tanya's mother asks why he thinks so, and he answers, "It takes one to know one."

Как сказать по-русски?
  • Vovan

    Senior Member
    I can't think of an equivalent saying in Russian, so I'll give more or less similar phrases.

    In the first situation (which is rather delicate), one could say "Душа́ ду́шу зна́ет". It's an old saying, hardly used by many these days but perfectly understandable if said in a proper situation.

    For the second sentence, the very common saying "Рыба́к рыбака́ ви́дит издалека́" fits well.

    Both are similar to "A beetle recognizes another beetle", "'Like sees like", etc.


    Senior Member
    Душа́ ду́шу зна́ет
    Такой ответ предполагает согласие с критикой в свой адрес, которое, полагаю, отсутствовало.

    1. Чья бы корова мычала [а твоя бы помолчала].
    2. - Таня готовит ужасно. - Почему это ужасно? - Потому что как я.


    Senior Member
    1. President Joe Biden has called Vladimir Putin a killer. Putin responds, "It takes one to know one."
    (Which was an exemplary mistranslation to begin with.)

    Really, "рыбак рыбака видит издалека" is the closest (though not equivalent) option.
    Всяк (всякий) судит по себе.
    But it doesn't imply that the other person has the same faults as the first one. "It takes one to know one" does, basically it just equates the criticizing person and the person being criticized (effectively reducing the impact of the criticism, while the point of it remains formally valid).
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    Senior Member
    It's hard to wish for a more direct equivalence between an English and a Russian idiom of non-biblical origin than with рыба́к рыбака́ (often used in this elliptic form). The only salient difference is that the Russian one is suggestively metaphoric and hence humorous, lacking the direct accusatory tone of the English idiom.