A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” suggests that it’s better to have a certain advantage than the possibility of an advantage.

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is a less-commonly used than some idioms in contemporary English conversations. This phrase is one of the most complicated idioms in the English language. It will likely be challenging for new English speakers to understand exactly what one is referring to when the phrase is used for the first time. Despite this, it is well worth learning and researching for its interesting history.

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush idiom

 

Meaning of “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is an interesting phrase, one that suggests that it’s better to have a certain advantage, even if it’s lesser in some way, than the possibility of an advantage. The latter may come to nothing. So, a bird in the hand is symbolic of certain success or a result that one knows is confirmed. The two birds in the bush, while double what’s in hand, are not a sure thing. One may not be able to catch them. It encourages someone to go with the successes they have and not wait around for a better outcome that may never materialize.

 

When to Use “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” should be used in everyday conversation between friends, family, and close colleagues. While it is not quite as informal as some idioms, it still belongs in colloquial conversations rather than in formal speeches or papers. One might choose to use the phrase in order to remind someone to appreciate the successes that they’ve already achieved versus worrying or seeking out something that might be impossible. Also, the phrase applies if someone is going to take a risk with something that might lead them to lose the progress they’ve made.

For example, one might tell a friend whose gambling at a casino that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” before they place a bet with their new winnings. Or, one might tell another “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” before they take a business risk that might lead to failure.

 

Example Sentences with “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

  • Remember, Joe, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
  • My mom is always saying, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” She never wants me to take any risks.
  • If it weren’t for Sarah reminding me that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, I would’ve kept on gambling through the night.
  • I’ve always tried to remember that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and not do anything I’m going to regret.

 

Why Do Writers Use “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?”

Writers use “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” when they want characters to interact in a way that’s similar to how people exchange dialogue in the real world. It’s vitally important when writing a scene in a book, film, short story, or play that the dialogue comes across as convincingly as possible. Sometimes, using idioms like “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” can help lines feel real. Or, as is often the case when a phrase becomes cliche, it has the opposite effect.

 

Origins of “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” like most idioms, has uncertain beginnings. It is most commonly related to medieval falconry, where one could consider the bird in the hand, the falcon, an asset. This is contrasted against the prey in the bush. The first written iteration of the phrase is found in A Hand-book of Proverbs from 1670. It reads:

A [also ‘one’] bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

But, this wasn’t the first time the phrase was ever used. There are different visions that date back centuries before. Such as these lines from Ecclesiastes IX:

A living dog is better than a dead lion.

The first mention of “birds” in the phrase was in 1530 in The Boke of Nurture or Schoole of Good Maners by Hugh Rhodes. The phrase read: “A byrd in hand—is worth ten flye at large.” Although not identical to the wording used today, the relation is obvious.

 

Related Idioms

  • “The best of both worlds.”
  • “To make matters worse.”
  • “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”
  • “Your guess is as good as mine.”
  • “Add insult to injury.”
  • “Barking up the wrong tree.”
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
>
Scroll Up
Send this to a friend