A bird in the hand

Posted by ESC on September 16, 2003

In Reply to: A bird in the hand is worth two birds in a bush posted by Saxon Londagin on September 16, 2003

: May you plese help me find the meanning and origin of this phrase.

A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush - "It's better to possess something real right now than to count on finding something better in the future." From Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996). ".the Greek poet Hesiod wrote what was probably the earliest recorded version of this proverb (Eighth century B.C.): 'He is a fool who leaves what is close at hand to pursue what is out of reach.' The same thought appeared two centuries later in Aesop's 'Fables.' In one tale, a hawk refused to be outwitted by a sparrow it had just caught - the sparrow vainly argued that it was a mere mouthful for the hawk and should be let go. By about 1400, the current 'Bird in the hand.' was popular in medieval Europe as a rhymed Latin verse, and the English chronicler John Capgrave recorded the first English version in 'Life of St. Katharine' (c. 1450) as 'It is more sekyr (secure) a bird in your nest, than to have three in the sky aboue.'." From Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New; by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).