A man is known by the company he keeps

Definition

This idiom means that a person’s character is judged by the people they associate with.

Examples

My parents always said ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’ – I guess that’s why they encouraged me to make friends with people who had similar values to mine.

He was a bad influence on my brother and that’s why I told him ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’.

I was so surprised to find out that she hung out with that crowd – I guess it just goes to show that ‘A man is known by the company he keeps’.

Origin

This idiom has its origins in a line from a 16th century poem by John Ray, and has been used in literature since then.

FAQs

Q. Does this idiom only apply to men? A. No – the idiom applies to everyone.

Q. Can a person’s character be judged by the company they keep? A. Yes – everyone is judged on the people they associate with.