What Does Swallow Your Pride Mean?

Swallow Your Pride Meaning

Definition: To take an action, despite the fact that one is embarrassed to do so.

Origin of Swallow Your Pride

Swallow as a meaning of putting up with something that is unpleasant dates back to the 1600s.

For example, if a person swallows his words, he wants to speak them, but before those words can exit his mouth, he swallows them instead. This is the sense of swallow in swallow one’s pride.

Pride can also have more than one connotation. Pride can mean that a person is good at something and rightfully feels good about his or her ability. Alternatively, pride can be synonymous with arrogance. In the idiom swallow one’s pride, pride refers to arrogance.

A person suppresses his pride in order to adopt a more humble stance. He might do this out of necessity because he has no other option. It is also possible that he does this because he wants to be a better person, or to do the right thing. The two examples below show the idiom used in both manners.

The original locution of this phrase was to swallow one’s spittle, and it denoted the suppression of anger or some other strong emotion. This is still the meaning today.

The phrase originate in the Bible, specifically in Job 7:19:

  • How long wilt thou not depart from me, nor let me alone till I swallow down my spittle?

Examples of Swallow Your Pride

what does it mean to swallow your prideThe dialogue below shows two friends discussing a problem one of them has with his parents.

Giuseppe: I feel awful. I yelled at my parents last week after they gave me some advice. I was so sick of them meddling in my affairs that I told them that I was an adult, and I didn’t need their help. I could do anything that I wanted to do all on my own.

May: And now you feel bad because you hurt their feelings?

Giuseppe: No, not at all. I still feel like they should stop giving me advice. The problem is that I lost a big business deal, and now I’m in desperate need of money. Unfortunately, it seems like the only way out of this problem is for me to ask my parents for a loan.

May: Why is that so bad? Are you worried they won’t give it to you?

Giuseppe: I think they’ll give it to me if I apologize. I don’t want to apologize, but I guess I have no other choice. I’ll just have to swallow my pride and say sorry.

swallowing your pride definitionIn the dialogue below, a father is talking to his daughter about an argument they had.

Rafal: Vesna, do you remember how I yelled at you last week for tracking mud all over the floors?

Vesna: Of course! You made me cry!

Rafal: Well, you know I hate to admit that I am ever wrong, but in this case I have to do so. I never meant to upset you that much. I shouldn’t have yelled.

Vesna: Thanks. I appreciate you swallowing your pride to try to repair our relationship.

More Examples

This excerpt is about Christmastime.

  • Some gifts by their very nature make you swallow your pride. Imagine opening a present on Christmas morning from a friend — and it’s a dieting book. –New York Post

The second excerpt is about boating etiquette.

  • You don’t have to be perfect at backing a trailer; it’s fine to have to make a couple of stabs at it. But if it takes more than two or three minutes to back down a ramp and people are waiting, it’s time to yield the lane or swallow your pride and ask for help. (Most experienced boaters are happy to assist others at the ramp; it’s to their advantage.) –Houston Chronicle


The idiom swallow your pride means to humble oneself.