The early bird may catch the worm...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by sonia.perez, Apr 7, 2008.

  1. sonia.perez Member

    Hi everybody!

    I have readen this phrase and I do not finish to understand the sense, anybody could help me?

    "The early bird may catch the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese".

    I think it is a type of joke, I understand what they mean, but I do not know the sense of the phrases.

    Thanks in advance
  2. Cathy Rose Senior Member

    Northeast USA
    United States English
    I think it means that the first mouse springs the mouse trap and dies, so the second mouse gets to eat the cheese. It seems to be saying that it is better to be cautious.
  3. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    It's not a joke. The bird who gets up early catches more food, in theory. But sometimes it doesn't pay off to be the first person trying out something new. The first mouse get caught in the classic mousetrap, the second can have the bait without the danger once the trap has been sprung.
  4. Cathy Rose Senior Member

    Northeast USA
    United States English
    Yes, but if you look at the second statement, there is clearly a humorous intent. The early bird gets the food supply, but it also takes the risks associated with being the first to do anything. It's the second mouse at the trap who gets to eat the cheese; ergo, the late mouse gets the cheese, and the first mouse gets -- dead.
  5. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    The sentence "the early bird gets the worm" is a proverb in English that means "being the first person to take advantage of an opportunity leads to success, while delay leads to failure." It refers to birds hunting for worms early in the morning when the worms are still out of their holes, before the day becomes too bright and hot. The second phrase which has been added to the proverb is a joke, which suggests that sometimes being the first one to exploit an opportunity is not that good an idea. Cheese is traditionally used to bait a mousetrap, and the first mouse to try to get the cheese will set off the trap and will be killed in the attempt. However, with the trap already sprung and the first mouse dead, the second mouse will be the one who will be able to carry away the cheese in safety.
  6. angelicface Member

    english/spanish /tagalog
    well i strongly agree with you ;)
  7. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    You will often find that for every hallowed and wise saying there's another equally tried-and-true saying that suggests that an opposite course of action can have its own benefits.
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I was just about to say that, Biblio. (Great minds think alike. And fools never differ).

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