What is the meaning and origin of ‘one swallow does not make a summer’?
(T. Janaki, Madurai)
This is an expression that is normally used to caution someone. When you say that one swallow does not make a summer, what you mean is that just because something good has happened, it doesn’t mean good things will continue to happen. Chances are things may go bad, instead of improving. You are requesting the individual to err on the side of caution, and not to get carried away.
Just because you’ve won the first round doesn’t mean you’re going to win the championship. Remember, one swallow does not make a summer.
The expression comes from the world of Aesop’s Fairy Tales. In the story, a young man sees a swallow on a warm winter day. As you know, a swallow is a bird which usually appears during spring. Thinking that the winter season is over, the young man sells off his woollen coat, and with the money he has made, he goes to the bar and drinks. Unfortunately, in the days that follow, the temperature drops. The young man, shivering in the cold, realises that one swallow does not make a summer.
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