What is the meaning of [One man’s meat is another man’s poison]

The proverbial saying ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’ puts forward the idea that what is agreeable to one may be distasteful to another.

‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’ is one of the oldest proverbs in English. As early as 1604 it was referred to in print as “That ould moth-eaten Prouerbe”. One man’s meat is another man’s poisonThe first person who is known to have made a record of it is the English musician Thomas Whythorne in his Autobiography, circa 1576:

Þat which iz on bodies meat iz an oþerz poizon.

[That which is one bodies meat is others poison.]

The English theologian Thomas Draxe was the first to print the proverb in the form we now use, in Bibliotheca Scholastica, 1616:

One mans meate is another mans poyson.

Others had put forward similar sayings before 1576, for example this proverb in Richard Taverner’s transcription of the [Latin] proverbs of Erasmus – Prouerbes or adagies with newe addicions, gathered out of the Chiliades of Erasmus, 1539:

The smoke of a mans owne countrey, is much clearer than the fyer in a straunge countrey.