Hedge one’s bets

Hedge one’s bets is an idiom that dates back hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom hedge one’s bets, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

To hedge one’s bets means to mitigate one’s risk; to leave oneself an escape; to counterbalance one’s risk or avoid committing to only one course of action. For instance, a gardener may hedge his bets by planting different varieties of tomatoes in case one variety fails to produce. The expression hedge one’s bets came into use in the 1600s and is derived from a definition of the word hedge that was popular at the time, which was to avoid commitment. In finance, the phrase hedge one’s bets refers to spreading one’s investments among instruments in order to mitigate risk. In gambling, to hedge one’s bets means to make a large bet on one outcome, and then make a smaller bet on the opposite outcome so that one neither wins nor loses a large amount. Related phrases are hedges one’s bets, hedged one’s bets, hedging one’s bets.

Examples

Doubling down on the fusion element, I added a quesadilla stuffed with Chinese Emerald chicken with ginger scallion sauce, and then decided to hedge my bets with acarnitas burrito, which is pure Mexican food. (Arizona Republic)

“I’ll hedge my bets and say that while it may be weather dependent, this upcoming tourism season will be stronger than expected,” Vasser says. (New Jersey Business Magazine)

It has to be said that the minister hedged his bets three weeks ago when the UK announced Portugal was the only European destination on the ‘green’ list for quarantine free travel, recalling how the country was ‘scuppered’ by a similar u-turn last summer, coincidentally after only three weeks of what in that era was known as a ‘travel corridor/ airbridge’. (Portugal Resident)