What does the idiom "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" mean?

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush mean? In what situations is A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush used?

Meaning of "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"

Meaning

The idiom “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is a proverb that is used to illustrate the idea that it is better to keep something that you already have, than to risk it in search of something that may exist in greater abundance elsewhere. This phrase implies that it is wise to focus on security and accepting what is offered in the present, rather than taking a risk in an attempt to gain a greater advantage.

Etymology

The origin of this phrase is not precisely known, but the idea of this proverb can be traced back to ancient Greece. The Roman writer Aulus Gellius references this philosophy in his writings by saying “One holy day, he (Aesop) said: “Better one sparrow in hand than ten on the roofs.” The phrase is also commonly attributed to John Heywood, who wrote a collection of proverbs in 1546. His version of the phrase was “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” Over time, this idiom has become a popular proverb around the world, and is still used frequently to express the same idea.

Usage

This proverb is often used as a cautionary warning in situations where one might be tempted to take a risk in pursuit of something larger or greater. It is used to remind people that it is wise to have a secure or guaranteed option, rather than assuming that something better may be obtainable elsewhere. It can also be used to encourage people to settle for something that is satisfactory, rather than taking a risk in the hope of getting something better.

Example Sentences

  • “My friend wanted to get a new job, with better pay, but I told him a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
  • “I was considering going back to school to get a better degree, but then I realized that it’s better to stay in my current job and enjoy the security it offers. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
  • “My grandmother always tells me to take the small wins in life and not take unnecessary

The meanings of the words in the "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" idiom

The universal role of idioms

"Kill two birds with one stone" is an English idiom that means to accomplish two things with a single action. In French, the similar idiom is "Faire d'une pierre deux coups," which translates to "To kill two birds with one stone." This idiom highlights the efficiency of completing two tasks with one action.

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