Nothing ventured, nothing gained

Nothing ventured, nothing gained is a proverb that is over 500 years old. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. These common sayings are language tools 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. 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, haste makes waste, blood is thicker than water, 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 expression nothing ventured, nothing gained, where it came from, and some examples of its use in sentences.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained is a proverb that means if one does not take risks, one cannot achieve anything. The sentiment is that one must be willing to risk something dear to him or risk failure if one wants to reap a reward. The expression nothing ventured, nothing gained appears in John Heywood’s 1546 work, A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the englishe tongue: “Nothing ventured, nothing had – if you don’t speak, you don’t advance.” However, the phrase is found in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, in The Reeve’s Tale: “I will arise and take a chance, too, by my faith! Nothing ventured, nothing gained, or so men say.” Some believe the proverb nothing ventured, nothing gained is a translation of the French proverb, from the 1300s: “Qui onques rien n’enprist riens n’achieva,” or “He who never undertook anything never achieved anything.” As with many proverbs, only the first part of the phrase, nothing ventured, is used sometimes with the assumption that the listener will understand the rest of the sentiment.


“It’s very serendipitous how things work out so my takeaway is that nothing ventured, nothing gained.” (The Coast Halifax)

“I just like to try anything and I figured nothing ventured, nothing gained,” said Holly, 36, who works at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada. (The Chronicle Herald)

The research firm disclosed this in its 2019 review and 2020 outlook report with the topic, ‘Nigeria in the new decade: Nothing ventured, nothing gained.’ (The Punch)

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