What Does Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts Mean?

Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts Meaning

Definition: You should be suspicious of people who are suddenly kind to you.

The phrase “Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts” is a proverb that is given as a warning.

If someone tells you to beware of Greeks bearing gifts, he is warning you to be wary about the reasons why someone is suddenly treating you kindly. The warning implies that person being nice might have an ulterior motive for being kind.

Origin of Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

what does beware of greeks bearing gifts mean This is originally a Latin phrase that has been used for hundreds of years.

This phrase originates from the story of the wooden Trojan horse, which was a gift given by the Greeks to the Trojans in the story of the Aeneid. The Trojans thought that the horse was a decorative gift given as a peace offering to end a war. However, the Greeks hid soldiers inside of the horse as a way to infiltrate the city.

Therefore, the Trojans would literally be afraid of Greeks bearing gifts to them because what seemed to be a kind gift was actually intended to be a tool of war and destruction.

Examples of Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts

beware of bearing gifts In modern times, people use this phrase to caution others about the people with which they spend time.

If  someone who was formerly a rival or enemy suddenly begins to act kindly, he or she may have a secret motive, much like the Greeks when they gave the Trojans the wooden horse, so you would need to be suspicious or “beware.”

This phrase cautions people not to trust others blindly.

More Examples

  • Just like the people of Troy had to beware of Greeks bearing gifts, the denizens of Unicornville have to beware of term sheets with liquidation preferences. –CNBC
  • The curious saying “beware Greeks bearing gifts” alludes more to the fable of Troy’s wooden horse than to the warmth and hospitality for which Greece is famous. –BBC


The proverb beware of Greeks bearing gifts cautions people to avoid being overly trusting when people suddenly change their behavior.