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The meaning and origin of the expression: Rome wasn't built in a day

Rome wasn't built in a day

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Rome wasn't built in a day'?

The proverbial saying 'Rome wasn't built in a day' suggests that a complex task or great achievement takes time and effort and should not be rushed.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Rome wasn't built in a day'?

The earliest known version of this expression is found in the collection of medieval French poems Li Proverbe au Vilain, which was published around 1190:

Rome ne fu[t] pas faite toute en un jour

Rome wasn't built in a day.The expression is first found in English in Richard Taverner's translation from the Latin of Erasmus's Prouerbes, 1545:

Ye may use this prouerbe when ye wol signifie that one daye... is not ynoughe for... acheuinge... a great matter... Rome was not buylt in one day.

John Heywood's A Dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the Prouerbes in the Englishe tongue, was published within a few months and contained the same proveb:

Rome was not bylt on a daie (quoth he) & yet stood Tyll it was fynysht, as some saie, full fayre.

The proverb was well enough known for Queen Elizabeth I to have included it in a public address that she made on a visit to Cambridge in 1564:

"But this common saying has given me a certain amount of comfort - a saying which cannot take away, but can at least lessen, the grief that I feel; and the saying is, that Rome was not built in one day."

See also: the List of Proverbs.

Gary Martin - the author of the website.

By Gary Martin

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