Revenge is a dish best served cold  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

"Revenge is a dish best served cold" is a popular proverb. It suggests that revenge is more satisfying if enacted when unexpected or long feared, inverting traditional civilized revulsion toward 'cold-blooded' violence.

The idea's origin is obscure. The French diplomat Talleyrand (1754–1838) has been credited with the saying La vengeance est un mets que l'on doit manger froid. [Revenge is a dish that should be eaten cold.], albeit without supporting detail. It has been in the English language at least since the 1846 translation of the 1845 French novel Mathilde by Joseph Marie Eugène Sue: la vengeance se mange très-bien froide, there italicized as if quoting a proverbial saying, and translated revenge is very good eaten cold. It has been wrongly credited to the novel Les liaisons dangereuses (1782).

Its path to modern popularity may begin with the 1949 film Kind Hearts and Coronets which had revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold. The familiar wording appears in the film Death Rides a Horse (1967), in the novel The Godfather by Mario Puzo (1969), and as if from an "old Klingon Proverb" in the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) and again in the title sequence of the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill: Vol 1 (2003).

Another proverb states: "Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves." The implication here is that a desire for revenge may ultimately hurt the seeker as much as the victim. Alternatively, it may imply that you should be prepared to die yourself in the process of seeking revenge.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Revenge is a dish best served cold" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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