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It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” refers to the moment in which something is truly over or decided.

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” is an interesting and humorous English colloquialism that’s used as a proverb in everyday conversation. It is used to suggest that someone shouldn’t get too committed to a specific outcome before it’s set in stone. It can be dated back to 1976 in which it was first used in the Dallas Morning News. 

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

 

Meaning of “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” 

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” is a recently coined colloquialism that is often used as a proverb. It means that someone, or a group of people, shouldn’t assume that the outcome of an event until it is confirmed. Things can always change before the end/conclusion is reached. It is similar to other proverbs, in that it warns those hearing it not to get too committed to one possible outcome.

 

When To Use “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” 

“It ain’t over till the fat lady sings” can be used in a variety of situations and among different groups of people. It is a colloquialism though, meaning that it is best suited for conversations with friends and family members. It would not be appropriate in a business meeting or academic paper. The phrase can be used in a positive or negative context. For example, someone might say it in order to warn themselves, and others, not to get too excited about something they want to happen or alternatively, not to worry too much about something they don’t want to have happened. 

 

Example Sentences 

  • Don’t worry, everyone. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings. 
  • I don’t think you should be making that bet yet, it isn’t over till the fat lady sings. 
  • We shouldn’t get too committed to making that purchase, we just don’t know what’s going to happen and nothing is over till the fat lady sings. 
  • Have you heard the fat lady sing yet? No? Well, then it isn’t over yet. 
  • I only made my decision after everyone decided the fat lady had sung and it was over. 

 

Why Do Writers Use “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings?” 

Writers use “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” in the same way and for the same reasons that people use it in everyday conversation. It can be used in dialogue between two characters or perhaps in a narrator’s commentary on a situation. Unlike some proverbs, it is still fairly common and may not be known to sections of the English-speaking population. This means that it maintains some of its interest. It can still be used without the writer feeling that readers will roll their eyes at its cliche selection. That being said, writers are also very aware that these phrases are not suited for any and every type of writing. If someone doesn’t understand the proverb, writers won’t want that fact to affect their broader understanding of a short story, novel, or other literary work. 

 

Origins of “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings”

The first recorded use of the phrase “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” was in the Dallas Morning News in March of 1976. The phrase was discovered in content by Fred R. Shapiro who published it in his book, The Yale Book of Quotations. The quote is related to a discussion of the outcome of a game. Here are a few lines:

“Hey, Ralph,” said Bill Morgan, “this… is going to be a tight one after all.” “Right”, said Ralph, “the opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”

Before the discovery and republication of this iteration of the phrase, it was previously thought that it could be attributed to Dan Cook, a sportswriter, and broadcaster. One of the most popular recent iterations of the phrase can be found in the film Independence Day in which the two main characters, played by Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith, alluding to the phrase while putting their lives at risk to save the earth from an alien threat. 

 

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