What does the idiom "Look before you leap" mean?

The expression Look before you leap is one of the idioms that often finds a place in our literature and enriches our language. However, its meaning is not fully understood, so it is sometimes used in the wrong situations. Please review the explanation carefully for the correct use of the Look before you leap idiom.

Meaning of "Look before you leap"


The phrase “Look before you leap” is an idiomatic expression used to warn people to properly consider their options before taking any action. This phrase implies that one should carefully assess a situation before embarking on an endeavor or making a decision.


This proverb has been in use since the 16th century, first appearing in John Heywood’s 1546 collection of proverbs Proverbes. The phrase is derived from the Latin maxim, “considera ante quam proficiscare” which translates to “consider before you start out”. While the phrase has been in use in English for hundreds of years, it has also been utilized in other languages including German and Latin.


The phrase “look before you leap” is used as advice when a decision is being made. Whether it’s a major life choice, or a minor one, this phrase is used to remind people to think through the consequences of their actions. Some people may be hasty when making decisions and this phrase is a gentle reminder to take a step back and think about the matter at hand before jumping into something without any forethought. Additionally, it can also be used to warn people to take precautions to protect themselves from harm.

Example Sentences

  • I know you’re excited about this new job opportunity, but don’t forget to look before you leap.
  • My mom always said “Look before you leap” when it came to making decisions.
  • If you’re going to go rock climbing, remember to look before you leap and take the necessary safety measures.

The meanings of the words in the "Look before you leap" idiom

The power of idioms transcends languages!

"Putting the cart before the horse" is an English idiom that means doing things in the wrong order. In Russian, the similar idiom is "Кладёт колесо впереди лошади," which translates to "Putting the cart before the horse." This idiom emphasizes the idea that doing things in the wrong order can lead to confusion and problems down the line.


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