What Does Breeding Will Tell Mean?

Breeding Will Tell Meaning

Definition: Someone’s character or true self will be revealed eventually.

Breeding refers to one’s pedigree, lineage, or ancestors. Typically, saying that someone has good breeding means that that person has good manners or behaves admirably. Someone with bad breeding acts in reckless, harmful, or disgusting ways.

Therefore, to say breeding will tell is to say that one’s breeding will be revealed eventually. By knowing someone for a longer period of time, you will be able to figure out whether he is a good-natured and kind person or an ill-natured person.

Origin of Breeding Will Tell

This phrase is related to good breeding, a phrase that means someone is of good lineage and usually has good behaviors.

meaning of breeding will tellAnother related phrase is well bred. If someone is well bred, he has come from wealthy family members and has been trained in proper etiquette.

Examples of Breeding Will Tell

Someone may use this as a cautionary phrase. “You enjoy him now,” a woman may caution her friend about a date, “but eventually his rude side will come out. Breeding will tell.” In this example, the woman is insinuating that this man is rude by nature and will not be able to hide it or change it.

english idioms breeding will tellSomeone may use this phrase as a positive statement as well. “He’s really shy,” another woman might say, “but he will treat you so well. Breeding will tell. Keep seeing him for a few more dates.”

While this was once a common English proverb, it is not commonly used anymore in speech or in writing. In modern English, people more commonly say, “time will tell” instead.

It is more polite to say “time will tell” when talking about a person than “breeding will tell” because it does not refer to things being cemented by fate or family names.


The phrase breeding will tell refers to a person showing his true self over time.