add insult to injury

Idioms & Phrases

add insult to injury

Hurt a person's feelings after doing him or her harm; also, make a bad situation worse. For example, Not only did the club refuse him, but it published a list of the rejected applicantsthat's adding insult to injury, or The nearest parking space was half a mile away, and then, to add insult to injury, it began to pour: The phrase is an ancient one, even older than its often cited use in the Roman writer Phaedrus's fable of the bald man and the fly. A fly bit the head of a bald man, who, trying to crush it, gave himself a heavy blow. The fly then jeered, "You want to avenge an insect's sting with death; what will you do to yourself, who have added insult to injury?" In English it was first recorded in 1748.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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