Pay it forward is a concept that has been around since ancient times, but the phrase seems to date to the early twentieth century.
Pay it forward is a phrase that means to reward someone’s kindness toward you by being kind to someone else. The idea is that you do not hoard the kindness for yourself, or confine it only to a small circle of people. Instead, you spread the goodwill in order to affect as many people as possible. The concept of pay it forward goes back as far as classical Greece, and is found in a play by Menander known as The Grouch. Tthe oldest known use of the phrase pay it forward is in the book In the Garden of Delight, written in 1916 by Lily Hardy Hammond: “You don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” The 2000 movie Pay It Forward popularized the concept and the phrase. Related phrases are pays it forward, paid it forward, paying it forward.
The former paramedic, who became homeless 18 months ago, says he wants to use some of the donations to “pay it forward” and help others by “returning the favour”. (The Telegraph)
Our students pay it forward by: Inviting someone who isn’t playing with anyone to come and play, being a good listener, following teacher’s directions, using words of encouragement, giving a random compliment, taking turns, following rules, making good choices, showing respect to everyone, solving problems peacefully, being honest, making a new student feel welcome, and congratulating others on their success. (The Norwalk Reflector)
Then Duarte explained, indicating to the sold sign in her hand and the sewing machine, “Someone paid it forward and bought this for you.” (The Bonners Ferry Herald)