“Kill two birds with one stone” is a common English idiom. The phrase is quite well-known today and can be used in a wide variety of situations. It refers to the ability to complete two or more tasks at once and therefore optimizing one’s time and energy. It dates back to at least the 1600s and perhaps earlier. Some have cited the story of Daedalus and Icarus from Greek mythology as a possible source.
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Meaning of “Kill two birds with one stone”
“Kill two birds with one stone” is an interesting and unusual idiom that is used to refer to getting multiple things done at once. If you “kill two birds with one stone,” you take one action that resolves two issues, or perhaps even more. This way of moving through the world allows one to spend more time on something more pleasurable. For example, one might choose to “kill two birds with one stone” by stopping at the store on the way home from work. Then, they can get home and settled more quickly than if they went home and then back out to the store.
When To Use “Kill two birds with one stone”
It’s possible to use “kill two birds with one stone” in a wide variety of situations. It can appear in everyday speech as well as in writing. Due to the nature of this idiom, it’s better used in the company of friends, family members, and close colleagues. It’s very colloquial, meaning that it wouldn’t be professional to use it in a business meeting, academic paper, or most formal speeches. This idiom is quite well-known and will therefore likely be understood by all English speakers who hear it. This means that speakers or writers don’t need to be concerned that no one is going to understand them if they use the phrase. It has a long history in the English language.
Example Sentences With “Kill two birds with one stone”
- I’ll kill two birds with one stone and stop at the store on my way home.
- He kills two birds with one stone by running to work every day.
- Every day I read while riding the bus to work, it’s the best way to kill two birds with one stone.
- It’s always best to try to kill as many birds with one stone as possible. We have to make the most of our time.
- He dropped his wife off at work while on the way to the gym, killing two birds with one stone.
Why Do Writers Use “Kill two birds with one stone?”
Writers use “kill two birds with one stone” in the same way and for the same reason that the phrase is used in conversation among friends, family members, and close colleagues. It’s possible to work this phrase into a dialogue between two such characters or to include it in a narrator’s thoughts. The phrase might be used when a character is describing their own actions or someone else’s, such as in the above examples.
Origins of “Kill two birds with one stone”
“Kill two birds with one stone” was first found in writing in 1656. It appeared in The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance written by Thomas Hobbes. The quote reads:
T. H. thinks to kill two birds with one stone, and satisfie two Arguments with one answer, whereas in truth he satisfieth neither.
Before this, a similar-sounding phrase is found in The Proverbs of John Heywood, 1546. It reads:
I will learne to stop two gaps with one bush.
Another interesting possible origin dating back to the story of Daedalus and Icarus from Greek mythology. The story describes Daedalus, a great inventor, killed two birds with a stone in order to take their wings. The most famous part of the story occurs later when the wax that held Icarus’ wings together melted when he flew too close to the sun.
- “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
- “A perfect storm.”
- “Make hay while the sun shines.”
- “Time is money.”