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This heat is spoken by Richard Vernon, played by Paul Gleason, in the film The Breakfast Club, directed by John Hughes (1985).

You are watching: Mess with the bull you get the horns meaning

Mr. Vernon is the assistant principal at Shermer High School, and that method he it s okay the respect of looking ~ the delinquents in Saturday detention. Walk he desire to be there babysitting a bunch that bratty teenagers? Nope—but some low-ranking administrator has to, right?

When Mr. Vernon strolls into the library in ~ 7:06AM and addresses the five children sitting there, the lays down the rule pretty quickly. No talking. No moving. No sleeping—especially you, Bender. The high college students are additionally supposed to create a one thousand-word essay the answers the eternal question—"Who to be I?" (like Mr. Vernon cares).

The only member the the small detention crew who questions Mr. Vernon is john Bender, who automatically insults the vice primary by asking if that raided Barry Manilow"s wardrobe. (Hey, us think Barry Manilow actually dresses type of cool.) Mr. Vernon responds by offering Bender an additional detention next Saturday and then lays this tiny bit of wisdom ~ above him: "Don"t mess with the bull, young man. You"ll acquire the horns."

Oh man—could Mr. Vernon be any much more of a pompous jerk in this scene? Sure, Bender backtalks him a little, yet the guy basically walks right into this room, talks under to these kids, and flaunts what small power that has. The doesn"t care about them at all. In fact, he desires to make certain their day is really miserable. Mr. Vernon could think he"s a powerful and dangerous bull, however Bender isn"t afraid to hit him down a couple of pegs—even if it method two months" worth of detentions. Wow.

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Where you"ve heard it

"Mess with a bull, you obtain the horns," is actually a relatively popular tiny idiom. It renders sense because, basically, you"re simply saying that if you shot to tangle through a danger animal, you might end up acquiring gored a little. Hey, that never ever stopped any kind of of those men in Pamplona, now did it?

Additional significant References

In the Veronica Mars movie, a fresh brand-new Neptune cop is about to spit this line to Veronica and her father, yet Veronica cut him off: "You mess with the bull—" "You obtain the clichés?" nice one, Veronica.

Pretentious Factor

If you were to drop this quote at a dinner party, would certainly you get an in-unison "awww" or would certainly everyone roll their eyes and never invite friend back? below it is, top top a scale of 1-10.


Using this quote as a serious threat is gonna do you watch pretty showy and ridiculous. You"re no a bull. You"re one assistant vice principal (at best). For this reason let"s take it it down a few notches, okay?