Glossary Home Idioms

Make hay while the sun shines

“Make hay while the sun shines” suggests that someone should take advantage of the time they have to complete a task or take on an opportunity.

“Make hay while the sun shines” is a common English proverb that’s used to refer to taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. It can be used in a wide variety of situations, in regard to oneself or to other people. In the written record, the phrase was first recorded in the 1500s in a book of proverbs. 

Make hay while the sun shines meaning

 

Meaning of “Make hay while the sun shines” 

“Make hay while the sun shines” suggests that someone should take advantage of the time they have to complete a task. The words themselves suggest something physical but that’s not necessarily the case. It might be used to refer to any task that can be completed in a certain period of time. At the same time, the phrase can be used to refer to taking advantage of opportunities when they present themselves before the moment is lost. 

 

When to Use “Make hay while the sun shines” 

It’s possible to use “make hay while the sun shines” in a variety of situations. One might use the phrase to remind another to take advantage of a temporary situation. For example, an open job offer, a day without work, or a break in a fight. It might also apply to financial opportunities, physical work, the time of the year, and more. It’s easy to imagine that one person might use the phrase to suggest that they’re going to do everything they can while time allows. Such as completing work or spending time with a loved one in order to remedy the relationship. 

 

Example Sentences With “Make hay while the sun shines” 

  • I think I really need to make hay while the sun shines and get down to work. 
  • She is trying to make hay while the sun shines in order to get everything done.
  • You know what they say about making hay while the sun shines. I think that’s what I need to do today. 
  • I really don’t have time for any distractions, I need to make hay while the sun shines. 

 

Why Do Writers Use “Make hay while the sun shines?” 

Writers use “make hay while the sun shines” in the same way and for the same reasons that people do in everyday conversation. It’s possible to use idioms, proverbs, and other related aphorisms in conversations between characters. These common saying can create familiar dialogue, passages that readers have heard before or perhaps have said themselves. When a reader encounters a character saying something that they’ve heard said, or say themselves, then it’s more likely that the reader is going to connect to the character in question. 

 

Origins of “Make hay while the sun shines” 

“Make hay while the sun shines” is a saying that does not have a clear origin although it’s commonly believed to have originated from farmers. As is the case with most proverbs, this one dates back to at least the 1500s, and likely earlier. The first written record of the phrase being used A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue by John Heywood, published n 1546. Here, the proverb was already, clearly in existence. It was known by the author and would therefore have to have been used fairly widely. The quote from the volume reads: 

Whan the sunne shinth make hay. Whiche is to say.

Take time whan time cometh, lest time steale away.

Readers can also look back to the Bible for an example of a similar-sounding proverb. The passage from Proverbs reads: 

He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.

Here, the speaker is suggesting that it’s unwise to waste an opportunity if and when it presents itself. The saying appears in another interesting iteration in The Canting Academy. This citation is normally considered to be the first metaphorical use of the proverb. 

She … was resolv’d … to make Hay whilest the Sun shin’d.

 

Related Idioms 

  • “Like riding a bicycle.” 
  • On cloud nine.” 
  • “The ship has sailed.” 
  • “There are clouds on the horizon.” 
  • “Through thick and thin.” 
  • “Weather the storm.” 

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