give (someone) an inch and (someone) (will) take a mile

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give (someone) an inch and (someone) (will) take a mile

proverb If one makes concessions for someone, that will embolden that person to take further advantage of one, instead of being content with what they have been given. If you let the kids stay up later on the weekends, they'll want to do it all the time. Give them an inch and they'll take a mile. I offered the unhappy customer a refund, and she demanded that I also send out a replacement unit, free of charge. I swear, you give some people an inch and they take a mile!
See also: and, give, inch, mile, take
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

give (someone) an inch and they'll take a mile

Yield only a little and you’ll be taken advantage of. This expression began life as a proverb, “Give him an inch and he’ll take an ell,” cited in Heywood’s 1546 collection. Around the turn of the twentieth century mile entered the picture, as in W. D. Steele’s The Man Who Saw Through Heaven (1927): “Give these old fellows an inch and they’ll take a mile.”
See also: and, give, inch, mile, take
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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