I’ve often heard the phrase, “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” but I’ve never really knew exactly what it meant. I had always thought it meant something like the savor something that’s close, even if you have less of it.
It turns out that it is not what it means at all. Instead, “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” means it’s better to have a small actual advantage than the chance of a greater one.
I easily live by this, as I am sure many of us do, but I did not know that I could explain it by saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
After all,I publish my articles at Associated Content (AC). Now, I love AC for many reasons, but if somebody else asked me why I don’t try to get them published in a bigger publication, I could say “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” meaning I at least know that I’ll usually get paid at least $3 if the article is accepted for upfront pay and I’ll still get my $2 per every 1,000 page views instead of trying to get an article accepted by tons of other publications and probably getting rejected plenty of times and getting no payment and not being able to pay my bills.
It can also be that way for my poetry book when I simply wanted a poetry book, even though Publish America has not been paying me any royalties, so I don’t understand how people can have my book for sale. However, it was certain that I would be able to get my poetry book published and be able to have and buy copies of the book rather than trying to get a book of poetry published with big publishing company and never getting the book published.
It is unknown when the phrase first originated, although the first known use in print is from a book of verse printed in 1781 known as The Vocal Magazine: Or, Compleat British Songster.
The song’s title is “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” and it is listed as being “Sung at Vauxhail.”
Gay Strephon declares I’m the girl in his mind,
If he proves sincere, I’ll be constant and kind,
He vows that tomorrow he’ll make me his wife,
I’ll fondly endeavour to bless him for life,
For all other fwains I care not a rush,
One bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
In the Wycliffe Bible, the phrase, “A living dog is better than a dead lion,” can be found in the book of Ecclesiastes.
Then, there are also many variations of the phrase found earlier that are variations of “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Martin, Gary. “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. The Phrase Finder. May 28, 2010 http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/a-bird-in-the-hand.html>.