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The meaning and origin of the expression: Don't let the grass grow under your feet

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Don't let the grass grow under your feet

What's the meaning of the phrase 'Don't let the grass grow under your feet'?

The proverbial saying 'don't let the grass grow under your feet' means don't delay in seizing an opportunity.

What's the origin of the phrase 'Don't let the grass grow under your feet'?

The meaning and origin of 'Don't let the grass grow under your feet'.The fact that this proverb has a shortened 'Don't let the grass grow' variant is an indication that it might be of long standing. In fact, it is. The proverb is one of several 'Don't...' proverbs that emerged in Tudor England. For example, don't count your chickens before they are hatched and don't keep a dog and bark yourself.

The first known use of this proverb in print is in Nicolas Udall's comic play Ralph Roister Doister, 1566:

There hath grown no grasse on my heele since I went hence.

Udall had previously translated Erasmus's collection of proverbs and Aesop's Fables, so it is likely that he didn't come up with the imagery himself but adapted it from earlier classical works.

The first use of the proverb in a form more similar to the current usage is in the English cleric Edward Topsell's The Historie of Foure-footed Beastes, 1607:

She [the hare] leapes away againe, and letteth no grasse grow vnder his feet, hoping that her heeles shal deliuer her from the Foxes teeth.

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

Don't cast your pearls before swine

Don't change horses in midstream

Don't count your chickens before they are hatched

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 cat out of the bag

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