What Does Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold Mean?

Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold Meaning

Definition: It is better to deliver retribution for an injustice after time has passed, and it can be done dispassionately.

Origin of Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

This expression originated in the 1800s from French. The idea behind this is that revenge is more satisfying when one has had time to prepare vengeance that is well-planned, long-feared, or unexpected.

Examples of Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold

vengeance is a dish served coldHere is an example of two family members using the expression while having dinner.

Grandmother: Honey, have some more gazpacho.

Granddaughter: No, thanks. I can’t eat. I’m too upset.

Grandmother: Why? What’s wrong?

Granddaughter: My best friend betrayed me! I told her something secret, and she told a bunch of other girls at school what I said. Now everyone hates me. I feel like I might punch her in the face when I see her at school tomorrow!

Grandmother: Don’t be ridiculous. Much like this gazpacho, revenge is a dish best served cold. Wait until you are calm, and then make a calculated plan to deliver justice. If you wait until you aren’t upset, you’ll be less likely to make a mistake and get yourself in more trouble.

meaning of revenge is best served coldThe second dialogue shows a daughter and her father a book the daughter needs to write a report on for school.

Father: How’s school going?

Daughter: It’s okay, thanks. I’m supposed to write an essay about The Count of Monte Cristo, but, to be honest, it looks really boring. Have you ever heard of the book? Father: Of course! It’s not boring at all. It’s a classic tale of how revenge is a dish best served cold. Do you mind if I spoil it a bit?

Daughter: No, that’s okay.

Father: Well, the basic plot is that one man frames another man for a crime, and steals his fiancée. The accused man goes to jail. For many years, he plots his revenge. Eventually, he escapes jail and delivers an elaborate scheme to gain his revenge. It works very well.

More Examples

This excerpt is about a popular song and the theme of revenge.

It may be tough to take the title of Cee Lo Green’s new song and its brilliant karaoke-styled video counterpart — the first word starts with “f,” the second word is “you” — but several million folks have consumed it on the Web. It’s surprising popularity is a reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold — and poppy. –Denver Post

This excerpt is about a journalist jokingly threatening revenge at an unspecified future time to a talk show host.

“You can’t believe how many people tweeted me and said, ‘You’re supposed to be a journalist. How can you dress in leather, especially S&M?’ So, thank you,” Lauer sarcastically said.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” he warned his fellow host. –New York Daily News


The expression revenge is a dish best served cold refers the benefits of harming someone who harmed you after some time has passed, as opposed to immediately.