It Takes a Village – Idiom, 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.

Now, this is a phrase I understand all too well. No, it takes a village is not a guidebook on how to erect a settlement with huts and town squares. In fact, it’s a proverb that carries a profound message about community and a shared responsibility that we apply to parenting today. But let’s take a second to learn about the deeper meaning of the phrase and see how to apply it.

What Is the “It Takes a Village” Quote in Full?

It Takes a Village Idiom Meaning Origin

The full proverb is often quoted as “It takes a village to raise a child.” And, believe me, as a parent, I know just how true that is.

It Takes a Village Meaning Explained

The saying emphasizes that a child’s upbringing is a communal effort involving many different people and groups, from parents to teachers to neighbors and grandparents.

The whole idea underscores the belief that the collective involvement of a community is essential in achieving a certain goal or completing a task, like raising a kid.

Essentially, it’s a friendly reminder that asking for help with hard things is okay because many hands make light work.

Origin and Etymology of It Takes a Village

Though it gained popularity in the West through Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book titled “It Takes a Village,” the proverb has African origins. It’s said to have originated from the Nigerian Igbo culture and proverb Oran a azu nwa, which loosely translates to it takes the community/village to raise a child.

You can actually find the saying used in several cultures and dialects, and it holds the same intent across them all—from Lunyoro, Kihaya, Kijita and Swahili!

It Takes a Village Synonyms

You don’t have to use this proverb if it doesn’t work in the context at hand. Try any of these alternatives instead to mix things up!

  1. Community effort
  2. Collective responsibility
  3. Shared undertaking
  4. Teamwork makes the dream work
  5. Many hands make light work

Using It Takes a Village: Examples in a Sentence

It Takes a Village Idiom Meaning Origin 1

Let’s see how you can use this phrase in various sentences.

  • The way everyone pitched in to help during the crisis proved that it takes a village to get things done.
  • In the business world, it takes a village to make any company successful, from interns to CEOs and even volunteers.
  • The local fundraiser succeeded because everyone understood it takes a village to effect change and get people talking.
  • After having a couple of kids, I now know that raising a family truly takes something like a village.
  • Launching a new book take a village of support from everyone you know.

Do You Have a Village?

So, it takes a village is more than just a saying about child-rearing. It is evidence of the power of community and shared effort. So, whenever you find yourself in a team environment, remember this phrase and see if you can apply it in some conversations! Have a quick look around for my other idiom guides and see what else you can add to your vocabulary! 

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