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

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: I Contain Multitudes
    I Contain Multitudes
    by Ed Yong
    If a stranger were to accost you on the street and tell you that, from birth, you have never been ...
  • Book Jacket: Night of the Animals
    Night of the Animals
    by Bill Broun
    Debut novelist Bill Broun is a gentle, exquisite literary surgeon. His protagonist, 90-year-old ...
  • Book Jacket: My Name Is Leon
    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: ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Tea Planter's Wife
    by Dinah Jefferies

    An utterly engrossing, compulsive page-turner set in 1920s Ceylon.

    Read Member Reviews

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O'Farrell

An irresistible love story for fans of Beautiful Ruins and Where'd You Go, Bernadette?

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

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.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.