The meaning of, and background to, the well-known expression "Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

Well-Known Expressions

Marry in haste, repent at leisure

Meaning:

Get to know somebody very well before you marry them, or you may regret it later!

Background:

This proverb has been traced back to the Duties of Marriage, published in England in 1566. Shakespeare, Byron and James Joyce (to name but three) coined variants of it:

The Taming of the Shrew, William Shakespeare
Act III, Scene II. Padua. Before Baptista's house
Enter Baptista, Gremio, Tranio, Katharina (Kate), Bianca, Lucentio, and others, attendants

Baptista [To Tranio]
Signior Lucentio, this is the
'pointed day.
That Katharina and Petruchio should be married,
And yet we hear not of our son-in-law.
What will be said? what mockery will it be,
To want the bridegroom when the priest attends
To speak the ceremonial rites of marriage!
What says Lucentio to this shame of ours?

Katharina
No shame but mine: I must, forsooth, be forced
To give my hand opposed against my heart
Unto a mad-brain rudesby full of spleen;
Who woo'd in haste and means to wed at leisure.
I told you, I, he was a frantic fool,
Hiding his bitter jests in blunt behavior:
And, to be noted for a merry man,
He'll woo a thousand, 'point the day of marriage,
Make feasts, invite friends, and proclaim the banns;
Yet never means to wed where he hath woo'd.
Now must the world point at poor Katharina,
And say, 'Lo, there is mad Petruchio's wife,
If it would please him come and marry her!'


Lord Byron, Don Juan
Now hatred is by far the longest pleasure;
Men love in haste, but they detest at leisure.


James Joyce, Ulysses
Marry in May and repent in December

Alphabetical list of expressions

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