What does it mean when someone says, ‘slow and steady wins the race’? Where does this phrase come from?
‘Slow and steady wins the race’ is a proverb that stems from Aesop’s Fable known as The Tortoise and the Hare.
It means that working too quickly can lead you to make mistakes and fail, while patient, persistent work will allow you to conquer any problem eventually.
‘Slow and steady wins the race’ is a proverb that means that you will be more successful if you work slowly and constantly rather than working quickly for a short period of time. Essentially, the idea is that it is more important to be persistent than to have speed.
This proverb argues proposes that rushing to achieve something or get somewhere will actually end up proving unreliable or unsustainable. Additionally, working too quickly in order to reach an end can result in mistakes that leave a person less successful overall. On the other hand, working diligently, consistently, and persistently, even if not particularly quickly, can produce better results in the end.
If this all seems a bit wordy, here’s a more succinct way to put it: “Patient work will conquer any problem eventually.”
The proverb ‘slow and steady wins the race’ comes from one of Aesop’s Fables, The Tortoise and the Hare.
Aesop’s Fables (also known as the Aesopica) is a collection of fables that is credited to a storyteller and slave known as Aesop. Living in Greece between 620 and 564 BC, there are only scattered details of Aesop’s life, and his existence remains unclear.
These fables weren’t collected until roughly 300 years after Aesop’s death and originally belonged to oral tradition.
The Tortoise and the Hare have numbered the 226th fable in the Perry Index and tells the story of a race between unequal competitors– a hare and a tortoise. In the fable, the tortoise gets tired of the arrogance of the hare and challenges him to compete in a race. The hare is completely confident that he will win and leaves the tortoise behind quickly.
Midway through the race, though, the hare takes a nap. When he wakes up, the tortoise is ‘slowly and steadily’ marching toward the finish line. The hare sprints toward the end of the race but doesn’t make it there before the tortoise wins.
There are some competing theories about the moral of this fable. In Classical times, the foolish overconfidence of the hare was the emphasis of the story rather than the tortoise’s willingness to confront and defeat a bully.
How would you use ‘slow and steady wins the race’ in a sentence? Let’s look at some examples:
What are some other phrases that convey a similar meaning as ‘slow and steady wins the race’? Here are some examples:
When it comes to learning idioms and expanding your English vocabulary, ‘slow and steady wins the race!’ If you’re ready to move on to another phrase, make sure you check out our idioms blog.