It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings – Origin & Meaning

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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.

Got a penchant for curious phrases? Ever heard of it ain’t over till the fat lady sings? If you’re muttering about what in the world it means and how to use it, you’ve come to the right place. Sit tight as I unravel the history and details surrounding this common phrase.

Unpacking “It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings”

It Aint Over Till the Fat Lady Sings Origin Meaning

This seemingly offensive idiom essentially just means you shouldn’t assume the outcome or jump to conclusions until everything is said and done. It’s like organizing a fundraiser and giving up halfway through the event because you haven’t met the funding goal yet. Wait until the end, when it’s all over, and then determine your final numbers.

The same can be applied to sports. If you’re in the midst of playing a game and your team is losing, you still have time to score some goals before it all ends. Meaning it’s not over until the time is up because you could score a winning goal in the last few seconds.

Origin of It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings

This expression comes from the world of the opera. Most opera shows are long, including several singers, performers and acts. But there’s often a long, beautiful solo right at the end to conclude the show, and this was done by a large lady decked out in a gorgeous dress. That’s how you knew the show was almost over because the large lady was singing.

The very original fat lady was the role of Brunnhilde in Götterdämmerung, a German piece made by Richard Wagner and was over four hours long.

Later on, it was worked into the world of sports, specifically basketball games. One of the first instances you can find is by Ralph Carpenter in the Dallas Morning News in 1976, “The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings.” And then, in 1978, Charles Rayford Smith, a sports information director, used it in some televised commentary. 

It’s also a Southern expression used in church, referring to the choir and how the church isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

Some “It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings” Synonyms

If you don’t feel like using this long, wordy phrase, try one of these simpler ones.

  • It’s not over till it’s over
  • The game isn’t finished yet
  • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
  • The opera ain’t over till the diva sings

Seeing “It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings” Examples in a Sentence

It Aint Over Till the Fat Lady Sings Origin Meaning 1
  • My dad always used to say that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings, so let’s not give up on the game yet.
  • We may be leading now, but it’s not over till the fat lady sings. The other team can still win, so let’s stay focused.
  • They were ready to admit defeat, but I reminded them that the match was only over when the fat lady sings.
  • Despite the uphill battle trying to publish her book, Jane held onto the belief that the opera ain’t over till the diva sings.

Wrapping Up “It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings”

Now you’re all set to wield this colloquial phrase like a pro! Sure, it’s a wordy phrase and one that might rub some people the wrong way. But it’s not meant to be offensive. It just means it’s not over until it’s truly over.