MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Why do we say "He who hesitates is lost"?

Well-Known Expressions

He who hesitates is lost

Meaning:

Action leads to success; delay/self-doubt does not

Background:

Although it seems likely that the idea expressed in this idiom is older, the modern-day expression is an adaptation of a line in Joseph Addison's 1712 play Cato: "The woman that deliberates is lost."

Marcia.
I dare not think he will: but if he should —
Why wilt thou add to all the griefs I suffer
Imaginary ills, and fancied tortures?
I hear the sound of feet! they march this way!
Let us retire, and try if we can drown
Each softer thought in sense of present danger.
When love once pleas admission to our hearts
(In spite of all the virtue we can boast)
The woman that deliberates is lost.

Cato: A Tragedy: Act 4, Scene 1

English essayist, poet and playwright Joseph Addison (1672 – 1719) wrote Cato, arguably his best remembered work of fiction, in 1712. The play, which was published with a prologue written by Alexander Pope, is based on the last days of Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis, generally known as Cato the Younger, to distinguish him from his great-grandfather, Marcus Porcius Cato (Cato the Elder)

Addison is also remembered for founding The Tatler and The Spectator. Addison and his long-time friend Richard Steele founded The Tatler in 1709 with the aim of publishing the news and gossip heard in London coffeehouses. While Steele and Addison's journal only lasted a couple of years, the various short-lived successors to it all considered themselves successors to it; as does the modern-day Tatler, established in 1901, which held a 300th anniversary party in 2009.

After closing The Tatler, Steele and Addison launched The Spectator. Its stated goal was "to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality ... to bring philosophy out of the closets and libraries, schools and colleges, to dwell in clubs and assemblies, at tea-tables and coffeehouses."

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossings
    Crossings
    by Alex Landragin
    Crossings is a beautiful, if slightly messy, time-bending debut. It reads like a vampire novel, sans...
  • Book Jacket: Pew
    Pew
    by Catherine Lacey
    A quote often attributed to Leo Tolstoy states that "All great literature is one of two stories; a ...
  • Book Jacket: Waiting for an Echo
    Waiting for an Echo
    by Christine Montross
    Dr. Christine Montross had been a practicing psychiatrist for nearly a decade when she decided to ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flight Portfolio
    by Julie Orringer
    At once a sweeping historical narrative, an insightful character study and a tender romance, Julie ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    With or Without You
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A moving novel about twists of fate, the shifting terrain of love, and coming into your own.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Hieroglyphics
    by Jill McCorkle

    A mesmerizing novel about piecing together the hieroglyphics of history and memory.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Last Flight
by Julie Clark

The story of two women and one agonizing decision that will change the trajectory of both of their lives.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Every Bone a Prayer

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms

A beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T Real M

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.