What does the idiom "be born yesterday" mean?

You are wondering about the meaning of the phrase be born yesterday, maybe you heard it in a TV show, movie or theater play. Although this idiom is not used very often, it enriches your capacity of expression and strengthens communication. In which case is the expression be born yesterday used and what is its meaning?

Meaning of "be born yesterday"


The idiom 'be born yesterday' is used to refer to someone who is naive, inexperienced, and ignorant. It is used to describe people who have yet to gain the knowledge and understanding of the world. It is shorthand for someone who lacks the wisdom of age and the experience that comes with it.


The phrase originated in the United States in the mid-1800s and has been used ever since. It is thought that the phrase came from the phrase "no older than a day," meaning someone who has not yet experienced life enough to develop a proper understanding. It is also thought that the phrase came from the platitude that "children should be seen and not heard," as it implies someone who does not yet fully understand the world and should not be taken too seriously.


The phrase 'be born yesterday' is commonly used to refer to someone who is innocent, inexperienced, and unaware of the world. It is often used in a playful manner, but can also be used in a derogatory way. It can be used in a wide range of contexts, such as to describe a person's naivety in a particular situation, or to refer to someone who has not yet learned the norms of a particular situation.

Example Sentences

  • You don't know anything about cars - you must've been born yesterday!
  • Don't listen to him - he was born yesterday!
  • She's so naive - it's like she was born yesterday.
  • You can't trust him - it's like he was born yesterday.

The meanings of the words in the "be born yesterday" idiom

From Shakespeare to Social Media: The Evolution of English Idioms

English idioms have been around for centuries, with many originating from sources like literature, mythology, and everyday life. Shakespeare, for example, coined many phrases that are still used today, such as "break the ice" and "heart of gold." Over time, new idioms have emerged, with social media and popular culture providing rich sources of inspiration. For instance, the phrase "throwing shade" came into use in the 1990s thanks to ball culture, but has since been popularized by social media.


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