What does the idiom "Don\\\'t count your chickens before they hatch" 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 Don\\\'t count your chickens before they hatch mean? In what situations is Don\\\'t count your chickens before they hatch used?

Meaning of "Don\\\'t count your chickens before they hatch"


The idiom ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’ is used to warn people not to make assumptions about the future before any results or outcomes are certain. It advises not to rely on predictions or speculations, and to actively manage any expectations accordingly. In other words, the phrase essentially cautions individuals against expecting too much from something before the results of their efforts are certain.


The origin of this phrase dates back to Aesop’s fable titled "The Milkmaid and Her Pail". In the story, a dairy maid was walking along a path to the market with a large pail full of milk and daydreaming of the things she would be able to buy with the money she would make. As she walks, she begins to plan out each item she would buy. At one point, the maid became so caught up in her fantasies that she exclaimed ‘I shall have a gown of the very best, the finest in the land. And I shall drive to Church on Sunday in a coach and six!’ As she continued her journey, she stumbled and dropped her pail, spilling all of the milk. She eventually came to the realisation that she would not be able to buy any of the things she had imagined because her milk had been spilled. This story is the basis for the English proverb ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’.


The phrase 'don't count your chickens before they hatch' is often used to caution or advise people to manage their expectations, particularly when it comes to things that have not yet been finalised. This can be in regards to any situation, such as job applications, upcoming exams, or even personal relationships. It is often used as an expression of wisdom, to advise against putting too much faith in a situation before the results are certain.

Example Sentences

  • I know you applied for a lot of jobs, but don't count your chickens before they hatch.
  • Don't expect to get that promotion until you get the official news! Remember, don't count your chickens before they hatch.
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The meanings of the words in the "Don\\\'t count your chickens before they hatch" idiom

From One Language to Another: Idioms in Translation

Translating idioms from one language to another can be a tricky task, as the cultural context behind an idiom can be difficult to capture. For example, the French phrase "avoir le cafard" translates to "to have the cockroach," which means to feel down or depressed. Similarly, the Chinese idiom "????" (j?ng d? zh? w?) translates to "frog at the bottom of a well," which refers to someone with a narrow view of the world.


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