This line is spoken by Rictough Vernon, played by Paul Gleason, in the film The Breakrapid Club, directed by John Hughes (1985).

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

Mr. Vernon is the assistant primary at Shermer High School, and that implies he gets the honor of looking after the delinquents in Saturday detention. Does he want to be there babysitting a bunch of bratty teenagers? Nope—yet some low-ranking administrator hregarding, right?

When Mr. Vernon strolls into the library at 7:06AM and addresses the five kids sitting there, he lays dvery own the rules pretty easily. No talking. No relocating. No sleeping—especially you, Bender. The high college students are likewise expected to compose a one thousand-word essay that answers the eternal question—"Who am I?" (favor Mr. Vernon cares).

The only member of the little bit detention crew who questions Mr. Vernon is John Bender, who instantly insults the vice primary by asking if he raided Barry Manilow"s wardrobe. (Hey, we think Barry Manilow actually dresses kind of cool.) Mr. Vernon responds by giving Bender an additional detention next Saturday and then lays this little little of wisdom on him: "Don"t mess through the bull, young male. You"ll get the horns."

Oh man—can Mr. Vernon be any kind of even more of a pompous jerk in this scene? Sure, Bender backtalks him a little, yet the man basically walks right into this room, talks dvery own to these kids, and flaunts what bit power he has. He does not care around them at all. In fact, he desires to make certain their day is really miserable. Mr. Vernon can think he"s an effective and also dangerous bull, however Bender isn"t afrassist to knock him dvery own a couple of pegs—also if it indicates 2 months" worth of detentions. Wow.

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Wright here you"ve heard it

"Mess with a bull, you get the horns," is actually a fairly well-known little bit idiom. It makes sense bereason, basically, you"re simply saying that if you try to tangle through a dangerous animal, you might end up obtaining gored a tiny. Hey, that never quit any of those men in Pamplona, now did it?

Further Notable References

In the Veronica Mars movie, a fresh new Neptune cop is about to spit this line to Veronica and also her father, yet Veronica cuts him off: "You mess via the bull—" "You get the clichés?" Nice one, Veronica.

Pretentious Factor

If you were to drop this quote at a dinner party, would certainly you obtain an in-unikid "awww" or would everyone roll their eyes and also never invite you back? Here it is, on a scale of 1-10.


Using this quote as a major danger is gonna make you look pretty showy and ridiculous. You"re not a bull. You"re an assistant vice major (at best). So let"s take it dvery own a couple of notches, okay?