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"Don't spit in the wind" is a commonly euphemized phrase in the USA, out of "Don't piss in the wind," a British nautical phrase with a literal meaning. Both phrases mean "Don't do something self-defeating," in the sense of "If you try to expectorate (urinate), don't do it into (against) the wind or the saliva (urine) will blow back on you in a nasty way."

A futile act is "spitting in the wind." So is a selfless but unheeding act that "boomerangs" or has dire consequences the doer hadn't contemplated, an act that "did more harm than good."
"You don't tug on Superman's cape /

You don't spit in the wind / *or 'into the wind'

You don't pull the mask off that old Lone Ranger /

and you don't mess around with Jim."


Popular song, "You Don't Mess Around With Jim", ca. 1972,

James (Jim) Croce, singer/songwriter.

Lyrics copyright (c) EMI Music Publishing (as of this date).

by al-in-chgo September 15, 2011
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