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The meaning and origin of the expression: Don't count your chickens before they are hatched

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Don't count your chickens before they are hatched

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'Count your chickens before they are hatched'?

Don't be hasty in evaluating one's assets.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Count your chickens before they are hatched'?

Many of the proverbial words of advice that have lasted the test of time begin with 'don't'. We are warned not to 'keep a dog and bark ourselves', 'look a gift horse in the mouth', 'change horses in mid-stream' etc. 'Don't count your chickens' is one of the oldest, and possibly the wisest, of these. The thought was recorded in print by Thomas Howell in New Sonnets and pretty Pamphlets, 1570:

Counte not thy Chickens that vnhatched be,
Waye wordes as winde, till thou finde certaintee

Samuel Butler continued the pleasing rhyming in his expression of the proverbial advice, in the narrative poem Hudibras, 1664:

To swallow gudgeons ere they're catch'd,
And count their chickens ere they're hatched.

See other 'Don't...' proverbs:

Don't cast your pearls before swine

Don't change horses in midstream

Don't get mad, get even

Don't cut off your nose to spite your face

Don't keep a dog and bark yourself

Don't let the bastards grind you down

Don't let the cat out of the bag

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth

Don't put the cart before the horse

Don't shut the stable door after the horse has bolted

Don't throw good money after bad

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater

Don't try to teach your Grandma to suck eggs

Don't upset the apple-cart