He who hesitates is lost

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He who hesitates is lost is a proverb. 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)