All’s fair in love and war

All’s fair in love and war is a proverb. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that may be a famous quote, an inspirational quote, an epigram, or the topic of a parable. These common sayings are language tools or figures of speech that particularly give advice or share a universal truth, or impart wisdom. Synonyms for proverb include adage, aphorism, sayings, and byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the written or spoken proverb himself because these common phrases and popular sayings are so well known. Certain phrases may be a metaphor or a quotation; but if it is a proverb, it is often-used and has a figurative meaning. Speakers of English as a second language are sometimes confused by these pithy sayings as translations from English to other languages do not carry the impact that the English phrases carry. Some common proverbs are the wise sayings better late than never; early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise; an apple a day keeps the doctor away; don’t cry over spilt milk; actions speak louder than words; haste makes waste, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth; and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. One of the books of the Bible is the Book of Proverbs, which contains words and phrases that are still often quoted in the English language because they are wise. Many current proverbs are quotations taken from literature, particularly Shakespeare, as well as the Bible and other sacred writings. We will examine the meaning of the proverb all’s fair in love and war, where the expression may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

All’s fair in love and war means that the rules of normal civility do not apply during war-making, and they do not apply when one is desperately in love. The sentiment is that any type of behavior is acceptable if it gets one what he wants in matters of combat and of the heart. The proverb all’s fair in love and war seems to have been expressed in various ways for some time before it became a proverb in English. The earliest presentation of this idea in English may have been in the English translation of Cervantes’ Don Quixote in 1620: “Love and warre are all one…” The specific rendering of the proverb as it is repeated today may be traced to the novel The Relapse, or Myrtle Bank, published in 1789, author unknown: “Tho’ this was a confounded lie, my friend, ‘all is fair in love and war’…”


“It’s one thing on paper, then you get there. … I felt that way a few times throughout the show, but you know I think all’s fair in love and war.” (USA Today)

“I think some folks will say, ‘All’s fair in love and war,’ but it highlights the risk of developing this technology without thinking about its use in the hands of all possible actors.” (New York Times)

Striving to be compassionate, I’d never stoop to think progressives would resort to the shock doctrine, but since all’s fair in love and war, we should act first before Sen. Mitch McConnell and the others pick up the pieces. (Valley News)

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