Why do we say "One Swallow Does Not Make a Summer.

Well-Known Expressions

One Swallow Does Not Make a Summer

Meaning:

Don't draw a premature conclusion based on a single fact

Background:

his proverb appears in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics - the name given to Aristotle's best known work on ethics which is believed to be based on notes from his lectures at the Lyceum in Athens. Aristotle died in 322 BC.

"Now we take the human function to be a certain kind of life, and take this life to be the soul's activity and actions that express reason, and the function of a good man to be the good and noble performance of these. Each function is completed well when its completion expresses the proper virtue. Therefore, the human good turns out to be the soul's activity that expresses virtue. And if there are more virtues than one, the good will express the best and most complete virtue. Moreover, it will be in a complete life. For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one day; nor, similarly, does one day or a short time make us blessed and happy."

(translated by Terence Irwin, Hackett Publishing Co. 1985)

Many fables have been written based on the proverb including one attributed to Aesop. However, consider that Aesop lived around 600 BC (or at least the legend that became Aesop appears to have originated around this time as there's some uncertainty whether Aesop actually existed), it would seem that the proverb dates back at least a few hundred years before Aristotle.

In Aesop's fable, a young man sees a swallow on a warm winter day. Thinking that winter is over, he sells off his woolen coat, and with the money he's made he goes to the bar and drinks. Unfortunately, in the days that follow the temperature drops and the young man, shivering in the cold, realizes that one swallow does not make a summer.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

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

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    My Name Is Leon
    by Kit De Waal
    Kit de Waal's striking debut, My Name is Leon, has inspired this big, long, complicated question: ...
  • Book Jacket: New People
    New People
    by Danzy Senna
    Danzy Senna has spent virtually her entire writing career exploring the complicated intersections of...
  • Book Jacket: Hunger
    Hunger
    by Roxane Gay
    In this penetrating and fearless memoir, author Roxane Gay discusses her battle with body acceptance...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
News of the World by Paulette Jiles

A brilliant work of historical fiction that explores the boundaries of family, responsibility, honor, and trust.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Heart's Invisible Furies
    by John Boyne

    A sweeping, heartfelt saga set in Ireland from the author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Resurrection of Joan Ashby

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written--a story about sacrifice and motherhood.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

I's A D Before D

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.