Easier Said Than Done – Meaning & Origin

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

Let’s focus on a phrase that you’ve probably heard countless times before. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that some tasks in life are easier said than done. To use it, you need to understand its definition and how it came to be, so I’ll unpack everything you need right here, including some sentence examples.

Is Easier Said Than Done an Idiom?

Easier Said Than Done – Meaning Origin

Absolutely! Easier said than done is a popular English idiom that we use. We’re not actually comparing the physical actions of saying and doing.

Easier Said Than Done Meaning

When we say something is easier said than done, we mean that an idea or plan sounds simple when you talk about it. However, it’s much more challenging to actually put it into action. We often use this expression to describe tasks that seem straightforward but prove to be difficult.

It’s like writing a book. If I had a dollar for every time someone gave me a book idea and said I should write it, I’d be rich. Writing a book is easier said than done; you need much more than a simple idea to make it happen.

Origin and Etymology of Easier Said Than Done

Easier Said Than Done Ngram
Easier said than done usage trend.

This phrase easier said than done has been a part of the English language for a long time. It was used in the late 15th century in the book “Vulgaria, where the saying was, “It is easyer to saye than to do.”

Then it appeared in John Heywood’s book of Proverbs in 1546. Heywood’s version was better said than done, but by the 19th century, the modern version, easier said than done, was in common use.

It also appeared in The Dictionary of Cliches, published by Ballantine Books in 1985.

Easier Said Than Done Synonyms

This is a hard phrase to replace with another, but here are a couple of alternatives that could work, depending on the context.

  • Easy for you to say!
  • Makes sense on paper

Better Said Than Done vs. Easier Said Than Done

These two phrases might seem similar, but they have different implications. Easier said than done implies that a task is more difficult to carry out than to talk about.

However, better said than done would imply that some actions might be better left undone and only discussed — though it’s not a commonly used expression.

Easier Said Than Done Sentence Examples

Easier Said Than Done – Meaning Origin 1

I’ll show you how to use easier said than done with a list of complete sentences:

  • Getting a promotion is easier said than done.
  • He told me to just relax and not worry about the exam, but that’s easier said than done.
  • It’s easier said than done to ignore the negative comments.
  • Losing weight is often easier said than done.
  • Saving money sounds easier said than done when you have many expenses.
  • Finding a job in today’s market is easier said than done.
  • They say I should just forget about him, but it’s easier said than done.
  • Quitting smoking is easier said than done.
  • We agreed to wake up early and exercise daily, but it turned out to be easier said than done.
  • Moving on from a past relationship is always easier said than done.

Said and Done

I hope that the next time you hear the phrase easier said than done, you’ll know exactly what it means and how to use it. It’s always fun to discover the meaning behind these colorful expressions, isn’t it?

Enjoyed reading about this idiom? Check out some others we covered: