leopard cannot change its spots, a

Idioms & Phrases

leopard cannot change its spots, a

Also, the tiger cannot change its stripes. One can't change one's essential nature. For example, He's a conservative, no matter what he says; the leopard cannot change its spots. These metaphoric expressions both originated in an ancient Greek proverb that appears in the Bible (Jeremiah 13:23): "Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots?" It was first recorded in English in 1546.

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