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What does the phrase "A Bird in the Hand is Better than Two in the Bush" Mean?

What is the meaning of the phrase "A Bird in the Hand is Better than Two in the Bush"?


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This common phrase is actually a Latin proverb that is believed to have originated sometime in the Middle Ages. A proverb is defined by www.wikipedia.org, as: “A simple and concrete saying popularly known and repeated, which expresses a truth, based on common sense or the practical experience of humanity. They are often metaphorical.”

So to explain this further, this phrase is used as a warning. To advise a person who is facing a risky decision. It means to not want for more than you already have, if what you have is considered to be more than enough to get by on.

The popular, advisory, phrase can be used in reference to numerous things and opportunities. Say that, at your place of employment for example, an opportunity arose where you could apply for a different position that would offer more financially, but more responsibility that you may not be ready to handle yet. You could apply for that position because you feel you need the money, even if you’re happy in your current position, but by doing so it could imply to your boss that you’re not content where you’re at, especially if they feel you’re doing a great job in your current position. Would this cause a problem? You may think you’re just trying to better yourself, but your employer might view it differently. It may be better to consider all your options first, before you make a move.

Of course, the opposite may happen as well. You could be great at in your current role at work. However, there’s a possibility you may be more productive and effective, if you were given the chance to move up. So you don’t always have to respond negatively to this warning. A different approach would be more along the lines of, “Those two birds in that bush are singing a very beautiful tune!”

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