Why do we say "Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Are Hatched.

Well-Known Expressions

Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Are Hatched

Meaning:

Don't make plans that are dependent on something good happening before you know it has actually happened.

Background:

This saying is often attributed to one of Aesop's fables, although like so many of Aesop's stories it is not clear whether this one actually originated with him or has, at some point over the intervening 2500 years, been attributed to him.

The fable goes something like this: A milkmaid has a pail of milk that she plans to sell. She imagines selling the milk for a good price and using the money to buy some eggs, which will then hatch, then she'll raise the chickens and sell them for a good price and buy herself a nice new hat. Unfortunately, she spills the milk and thus all her plans are for naught. Thus the moral of the story is don't count your chickens before they are hatched.

Whenever and wherever it originated, it was definitely in use in the 1600s, as shown by Thomas Howell's New Sonnets and Pretty Pamphlets (1570), which includes:

Counte not thy Chickens that unhatched be,
Waye wordes as winde, till thou finde certaintee.

Alphabetical list of expressions

Challenge yourself with BookBrowse Wordplays

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

The third-rate mind is only happy when it is thinking with the majority...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

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.