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Language Arts

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush

The popular idiom-A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush-can be traced back to 13th century Latin use. The phrase continues to be applicable and is a still a common saying. Keep reading for more info on the popular phrase, A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

The old adage, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" means it is best to not get too greedy in life. It is better to have little in life than risk too much and lose everything. The person thinking of taking the risk may lose both the "two birds" as well as the original sure thing. The bird in the saying referred to was the falcon and the two in the bush refer to its prey. The meaning behind this popular proverb has been attributed to the Irish as well as old Latin. Another instance of this saying be used throughout history is found in a book written by Hugh Rhodes in 1530 . This book contains the phrase "Better one byrde in handle than ten in the wood."   It is unclear when the popular saying officially made its way to America, however, there is a town in Pennsylvania called Bird-in-Hand that was settled in the 1700s by the Quakers.  There are also many English pubs named after "A Bird in the Hand." Many scholars have speculated that this was derived from the popularity of the saying in medieval times.  The phrase also might be derived from a similar proverb from biblical terms in Ecclesiastes: "A living dog is better than a dead lion." 

While "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" itself may be centuries old, the truth of it remains. This popular phrase or saying is found to be applicable in many instances in life including gambling, investments, relationships, work promotions and other opportunities. While it is not a good idea to never take any sort of risk, the saying implies it is best to not take risks with a low probability of success.  However, many have the attitude that the risk might be worth the reward hence the response found another popular phrase: "A bird in the hand is good, but a bird in the bush might sing."



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