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Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself


"Check yourself before you wreck yourself."


"Stop doing this or you will get into trouble."


People use this expression when they warn others to stop 

doing something which is creating  problems. This is often 

said to intimidate others into not fighting.


Herman:   "Are you already drinking? It's 10:00 A.M.!"

Mariah:     "Hey, it's five o'clock somewhere right?"

Herman:   "You better check yourself before you wreck yourself!"

Mariah:     "I'm fine. I know what I'm doing."

Herman:   "You need help."




1. Literature Reference: Author Steve Almond references this idiom in a 2009 short story for Tin House ("Donkey Greedy, Donkey Gets Punched")  to describe the protagonist's son warning him against gambling: "Jacob continued to sneak into his office in the hopes of catching him playing online. 'Check it before you wreck it, daddy-o,' he warned."    

2. Media Reference #1: Journalist Toni Monkovic uses this expression in an October 17th, 2012 article for The New York Times ("Looking at Ray Lewis's Legacy") to provide football advice: "If Reid’s plan for prodding his 3-3 team toward a deep playoff run and saving his job includes benching quarterback Michael Vick, here’s some borrowed advice from the great football philosopher Ice Cube: check yourself before you wreck yourself." (  

3. Media Reference #2: Journalist David Greene uses this expression in an October 28th, 2016 NPR piece ("In Chechnya, Take Care How You Dance At Weddings") to describe a social crackdown in Chechnya: "Authorities in Chechnya are advising that you better check yourself before you wreck yourself. OK, not their exactly words, but Ramzan Kadyrov, the leader of the Russian province, has set up wedding vice squads aimed at cutting down on drunkenness and, quote, 'incorrect dance moves.' Also on the no-no list: firing a weapon, presumably in celebration. This is all part of a wider crackdown on public behavior." (At 4 seconds into the broadcast.)   

4. Media Reference #3: Jake Busey's character of "Sex Machine" uses this idiom in season 2, episode 9 of the television series From Dusk Till Dawn ("There Will Be Blood") to warn another character against attacking him: "Why don't you check yourself before you wreck yourself, Short Round, or I'll sic one of my new culebra girls on you." (At 25 minutes and 15 seconds into the episode. Originally aired October 20th, 2015.)

5. Media Reference #4: This expression entered English through Ice Cube's 1993 song "Check Yo Self": "You better check yo' self before you wreck yo' self, 'cause I'm bad for your health. I come real stealth." ( (At 48 seconds into the song.) 

MLS English Language Program Website (ww
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