Don’t borrow trouble

Don’t borrow trouble is an idiom that first appeared in North America. We will examine the meaning of the idiom don’t borrow trouble, where it may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Don’t borrow trouble is an idiom that means don’t worry about something before it is time to worry about it. The idea is that worrying does not solve anything, and we often worry about things that never happen. Worrying about something that never happens wastes time and energy and distracts us from things that should command our attention today. Most people are unaware that the idiom don’t borrow trouble is an abbreviation of a longer phrase, don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow, or don’t borrow tomorrow’s troubles. This idiom came into use in North America in the mid-1800s and may be related to a passage from the Bible, Matthew 6:34: “So never worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” The idiom don’t borrow trouble admonishes us to not borrow trouble from tomorrow to deal with today. After all, tomorrow’s trouble may never come.

Examples

On the concern about opposition to all new housing, don’t borrow trouble. (Forbes Magazine)

(Or, as my mom would say, “Don’t rehearse tragedies. Don’t borrow trouble.”) (Harvard Health Publications)

“Don’t borrow trouble,” is one of Helen’s favorite pieces of advice. (The Billings Gazette)

I got teary eyed, talked to a coworker and I said, ‘Geez. My mom just got over this breast cancer and I’m not going to borrow trouble.’ ” (Business Journal Daily)