What does the idiom "Live and learn" mean?

Are you using the idiom Live and learn but not sure about its meaning? Using idioms, which are important elements of spoken and written language, in the right place strengthens your language skills. Examine the meaning of the Live and learn idiom and the situations in which it is used.

Meaning of "Live and learn"


The idiom "live and learn" is a phrase that is used to indicate that one has gained knowledge or insight through experiences, usually through making mistakes and learning from them. It is often used as an expression of acceptance and understanding in a positive light when someone has experienced something new and unforeseen.


This phrase can be traced back to the Latin proverb "disce et vivere," which translates to "learn and live" or "learn in order to live." This phrase was later popularized by the 16th century English poet Thomas Nashe, who used it in his works such as A Litany in Time of Plague, written in 1593. The idea behind the phrase has been around for centuries before that, however, and can be seen in many different cultures, suggesting it is a universal concept.


The idiom "live and learn" has become commonly used in everyday language and is most often used to express a sense of resignation when faced with a problem or dilemma. It can be used to affirm that a situation which has occurred, no matter how unpleasant or unexpected, is not as bad as it seemed and that something can always be learned from it. It can also be a show of comfort when someone has made a mistake or failed at something, in order to provide a sense of encouragement.

Example Sentences

  • "I didn't know the answer to the question, but such is life - live and learn!"
  • "I failed the exam, but I guess I'll just have to live and learn."
  • "It's been a difficult journey, but I'm sure I can take something away from it. Live and learn, right?"

The meanings of the words in the "Live and learn" idiom

Idioms with similar meaning

"Don't judge a book by its cover" is an English idiom that means you shouldn't make assumptions about someone or something based solely on its appearance. In Japanese, the similar idiom is "Hana yori dango," which translates to "Dumplings rather than flowers." This idiom means that substance is more important than appearance.


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