He who hesitates is lost

He who hesitates is lost 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 he who hesitates is lost, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

He who hesitates is lost means that it is important to make decisions quickly, or that acting swiftly and decisively leads to success. The proverb he who hesitates is lost is not as old as you might think; experts trace the origin of this phrase to an 18th century play. Joseph Addison presented his play, Cato, in 1713, in which a character states: “The woman that deliberates is lost.” Over time, the sentiment was repeated by other writers, and the wording changed to its present incarnation: he who hesitates is lost. Like most proverbs, only the first part is often quoted with the expectation that the listener or reader can supply the rest of the phrase for himself.


“My favorite saying is ‘he who hesitates, is lost,’ however, so I decided to just do it.” (Publishers Weekly)

Second, while the old adages “He who hesitates is lost” and “Seize the day,” inspired my decision to grab an inexpensive flight to Guatemala in the first place, they were also instrumental in me making the decision to run for it instead of waiting for a hypothetical government plane. (The Tennessean)

Driving here is genuinely scary: apart from all the signs being in Arabic, nobody stays in their lane (even if there is a lane), and the only real rule is “he who hesitates is lost” (and I do mean “he”). (Irish Times)

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