Glossary Home Proverbs

Slow and steady wins the race

“Slow and steady wins the race” is a proverb that suggests one is better off being methodical than rushing into something unprepared.

“Slow and steady wins the race” is a well-known English proverb that may have originated, at least in the form it’s used today, from Aesop’s fables. As a proverb, it offers the listener an important piece of advice that, if acted on, should improve their life. This specific proverb can be used in almost any situation and among friends, family members, and close colleagues. 

Slow and steady wins the race

 

Meaning

“Slow and steady wins the race” is a proverb that suggests someone doesn’t need to be the fastest or strongest to succeed, rather they should be the most steady and dependable. The phrase is literally related to running/athletics but can be used to apply to almost any situation in which someone is trying to achieve something. If someone works consistently for a goal they have in mind it’s more likely, the proverb says, that they’ll achieve that goal. In contrast, someone who speeds towards their goal without considering all the possible issues they might encounter, or the fact that they might run out of steam, is more likely to fail. Or, at least have a harder time getting what they want. 

 

Origins

“Slow and steady wins the race” is commonly cited as originating from one of Aesop’s fables, specifically the story “The Tortoise and the Hare.” This story describes an egotistical hare, well-known for his speed, who is challenged to a race by a tortoise, known for his slow walking speed. The hare eagerly accepts the challenge and takes off running as soon as the race starts.

But, due to the hare’s overestimation of his abilities and pride, he stops around the half-way point to take a nap. He figures the tortoise is so slow that he’ll be able to sleep for a time and then wake up and finish the race well ahead. But, the hare keeps sleeping as the tortoise passes him. When he finally wakes up, the tortoise has already won. From this story, the reader is meant to interpret the moral in a certain way and understand that pride will likely be one’s downfall.

 

When To Use “Slow and steady wins the race” 

It’s possible to use the phrase in a wide variety of situations. One might use the phrase when attempting to talk some sense into a friend or family member who they feel is on the way to failure. Or, one might use it as an explanation in regard to how they’re considering and acting on their own goals. Because the phrase is so well known it’s unlikely that there is going to be a situation in which someone doesn’t understand the implications of it. 

 

Example Sentences With “Slow and steady wins the race”  

  • You know what they say, slow and steady always wins the race. You don’t need to rush. 
  • Stop running around like that, slow and steady is always going to win the race. 
  • He forgot the fact that slow and steady always wins the race and he took off without considering how much energy he needed to conserve. 

 

Why Do Writers Use “Slow and steady wins the race?” 

Writers use this phrase in the same way and for the same reasons that people use the proverb in everyday conversation. It should be noted that the phrase is not as commonly used as some similar proverbs are. It’s so well-known that it has become something of a cliche, meaning that it’s overused and has lost the impact it used to have in conversation. But, that doesn’t mean that the phrase is never used. It’s easy to imagine how a writer might include the phrase in dialogue, perhaps between a mother and a child, or between two friends. It’s also possible to conceive of a situation in which a writer changes the phrase, using new words and new allusions, to remake it. 

 

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