The meaning of, and background to, the well-known expression "Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Well-Known Expressions

Hope for the best and prepare for the worst

Meaning:

Be optimistic but also be prepared for all possibilities

Background:

In or around 46 BC, Cicero wrote to a friend saying, "you must hope for the best"; but the first known use of the full expression is in The Tragedie of Gorbuduc by Thomas Norton and Thomas Sackville in 1561 which was performed by the Gentlemen of the Inner Temple before Queen Elizabeth in 1562. It is believed that Norton wrote the first three acts and Sackville the last two.

It is believed to be the first tragedy written in English and the first full length play composed in blank verse. According to shakespearesglobe.com: Gorboduc was a radical departure from "the jigging veins of rhyming mother-wits" of the plays that came before. It audaciously warns the young Queen of the dangers of misgovernment and depicts a family and a country torn apart by civil war.

Not considered a work of great literary merit, the play's subject matter is of an ancient British monarch who quarrels with his sons - a theme that Shakespeare would revisit in King Lear (1605), albeit with daughters.

Alphabetical list of expressions

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