Question of the day?

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Robert Muckey's picture
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Joined: 2009-08-07

I would like to know where the phrase abird in the hand is worth two in the bush; comes from?

Redmink's picture
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Joined: 2009-08-07
A Bird In The Hand ...

(From http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/64950… )

Meaning
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It's better to have a small actual advantage than the chance of a greater one.

Origin
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"It isn't until the 19th century that we find the phrase in its currently used form. The earliest I've located is in a US newspaper The Huron Reflector, from January 1833:

"But few persons, so prone are we to grasp at the shadow at the expense of the substance, bear in mind the good old adage, 'A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.'"

This refers to the phrase as old. How long the current version predates 1833 isn't clear, but variations of the phrase have been known for centuries. The earliest English version of the proverb is from the Bible and was translated into English in Wycliffe's version in 1382, although Latin texts have it from the 13th century:

Ecclesiastes IX - A living dog is better than a dead lion.

Alternatives that explicitly mention birds in hand come later. The earliest of those is in Hugh Rhodes' The boke of nurture or schoole of good maners, circa 1530:

"A byrd in hand - is worth ten flye at large."

John Heywood, the 16th century collector of proverbs, recorded another version in his ambitiously titled A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, 1546:

"Better one byrde in hande than ten in the wood."

The Bird in Hand was adopted as a pub name in the UK in the Middle Ages and there are still many pubs of that name there. This refers back to mediaeval falconry where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was certainly worth more than two in the bush (the prey).

The term bird in hand must have been known in the USA by 1734, as that is the date when a small town in Pennsylvania was founded with that name."

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Joined: 2009-08-07
Well done, Redmink. I love

Well done, Redmink. I love trivia!

Mousepotatoes's picture
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Joined: 2009-08-07
Awesome job Mink!

Awesome job Mink! :)

Redmink's picture
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Thankee Ladies

:)

I didn't know it had that much history with it!!!!!!!!

It's probably the follow-up advice to "Fools Rush In Where Angels Dare To Tread."

;)

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