'Variety Is the Spice of Life': Definition, Meaning, Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on January 3, 2024

If you've ever heard someone say, 'Variety is the spice of life, you might have wondered what they meant. If you want to know the meaning of this popular saying, you've come to the right place. In this article, you'll learn what it means, where it comes from, and how to use it in a sentence.

But if you just want the short version, here it is: 

  • When someone says, 'Variety is the spice of life,' they mean life is more fun and enjoyable when it's filled with a variety of things instead of always doing the same stuff. 

What Does 'Variety Is the Spice of Life' Mean?

Well, first of all, 'Variety is the spice of life' is an idiom, which means you can't interpret it literally. It has a metaphorical meaning. Think about it; when you cook, you use spices to enhance the flavor of your food, to make it better or different. Let's try applying the same principle to life. If you wanted to make life better and enhance it, what could you do? You could add variety!

  • That's the purpose of this idiom. 'Variety is the spice of life' means that having a diverse range of experiences, activities, or choices makes life more interesting, enjoyable, and fulfilling. It suggests that trying new things, exploring different options, and avoiding monotony can add excitement and zest to one's life.

Imagine, for instance, that your friend is feeling a little depressed and feels stuck in a rut. You might say:

It's not surprising that you feel this way. You never go out or do anything outside of your usual routine. But variety is the spice of life; try something new, like making some new friends or picking up a new hobby.

Watch out! Because this idiom uses a verb ('is'), sometimes you might see it in different forms. That's quite rare, though, and if it does happen, it tends to be the past indefinite tense ('variety was the spice of life').

Where Does 'Variety Is the Spice of Life' Come From?

The exact origins of the idiom "Variety is the spice of life" are not well-documented, but it is believed to be of English origin. The saying has been used in various forms and variations for centuries.

One of the earliest known occurrences of a similar expression can be found in a letter written by the English poet William Cowper in 1785. Many attribute the idiom to him from when he used it in a letter to his friend Lady Hesketh in 1785.

The full sentence from the letter is as follows:

England is a country of machines. I don't mean to say that we are all mechanics, but every individual is a kind of mechanic. A machine for the making of money. It is the consequence of this that the general face of the country is so vulgar, so uninteresting. Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavor.

In this letter, Cowper was expressing his observations and opinions about the industrial and commercial nature of England during his time. He noted that people seemed very focused on their work and the pursuit of wealth, which he described as a mechanical and somewhat monotonous way of life.

Examples in Sentences

Now that we've covered the meaning of this idiom and its origins, here are some example sentences that use it.

She told me that variety was the spice of life and that was why she tried one new cuisine each month. 

They decided to go on vacation to new places every year because they believed that variety is the spice of life.

John enjoys reading various genres of books because he knows that variety is the spice of life.

In their marriage, they constantly seek out new experiences together, understanding that variety is the spice of life.

His wardrobe is full of colors and diverse clothing because he truly believes that variety is the spice of life.

The school encourages students to participate in a range of extracurricular activities, emphasizing that variety is the spice of life.

They switch up their workout routines regularly because they know that variety is the spice of life when it comes to fitness.

In her artwork, she explores different styles and mediums, embracing the idea that variety is the spice of life for creativity.

The festival featured a multitude of performances and activities to celebrate the belief that variety is the spice of life.

He enjoys meeting people from various backgrounds and cultures because he finds that variety is the spice of life in social interactions.

Other Ways to Say 'Variety Is the Spice of Life'

There are plenty of other ways to say life is more fun when filled with a variety of things. They're great to use if you're looking for alternative phrases.

  • Spice up your life.
  • A change is as good as a rest.
  • Shake things up.
  • Life is a buffet; try a bit of everything.

Concluding Thoughts

That concludes this article about this popular idiom. To summarize, when someone says, 'Variety is the spice of life,' they're probably trying to encourage you to try new things and add a bit of variety into your life.

Are you ready to learn more English phrases and expand your vocabulary? Check out our idioms blog for idioms, expressions, sayings, and more!  

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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