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One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure

Homeless man reaching into cement trash recepticle. one man's trash is another man's treasure.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure Definition

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

  • What is useless to one person may be very valuable to another.
  • Something might be meaningless to some people, but invaluable to others.

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure Examples

  • Justin gave me a folder of Pok√©mon cards his dad threw out. It had a few cards I haven’t found in years of searching! I guess it’s true, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
  • One man’s trash really is another’s treasure. I took some old sheet metal off my neighbor’s hands and used it to build a slide for the kids!

Quotes

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the by-product from one food can be perfect for making another.

Yotam Ottolenghi

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure is a third man’s raw materials for their planet-buster earthquake machine.

Seanan McGuire

One Man’s Trash is Another Man’s Treasure Origin

Literary Origin

Practical men may despise the tales, earnest men condemn them as lies, some even consider them wicked ; one refused to write any more for a whole estate ; my best friend says they are all ‘ blethers.’ But one man’s rubbish may be another’s treasure, and what is the standard of value in such a pursuit as this?

Popular Tales of the West Highlands, Hector Urquhart, 1860

Are phrase in a similar form as we use it today first appears in Popular Tales of the West Highlands. A four volume collection of fairy tales collected and published by John Francis Campbell around the year 1860. John Francis Campbell was also known as Young John of Islay, named for the fifth-largest Scottish Isle, owned by his father. John Francis was a scholar who specialized in Celtic studies.

Spiritual Origin

Face what they get or lose upon their own particular Accounts, is neither got nor lost to the Nation in general, because one private Man’s loss in that Case is another private Man’s Profit.

These things indeed are Cankers in the Estates of particular Men, but not of the Commonwealth, as some suppose, for one Man’s loss becomes another Man’s Gain; it is still in the Kingdom, I wish it might as surely remain in the right places.

Very true, Sir, one Man’s loss is another Man’s Profit; but what’s that to the Purpose?

A General Treatise of Monies and Exchanges, Alexander Justine, 1707

While the idea of something having opposite values to different individuals has been expressed throughout history. This example in A General Treatise of Monies and Exchanges appears to be the earliest written example that closely amounts to our idiom today. This treatise was written by an awesomely named Alexander Justice in 1707. The work ponders the traditions and rules of trading between nations, especially of England.