Nothing ventured, nothing gained

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained is a proverb that is over 500 years old. 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)