Who First Said Haste Makes Waste Essay


This proverb is often traced back to the Book of Wisdom, an apocryphal book of the Bible which was written in 190 BCE. Though this book does not contain the exact phrase ‘haste makes waste’ it expresses the general idea that someone who ‘maketh haste’ actually ends up ‘more behind’ than someone who had gone more slowly. However, in the present day, not everyone knows of this provenance. Moreover, the proverb does not need to be used in a strictly religious sense.


This proverb uses two key ideas, ‘haste’ and ‘waste’. ‘Haste’ means moving quickly, or doing something quickly. It means the same as hurrying. Haste, here, may not just mean going quickly. It may also mean doing things in a slapdash, way.

‘Waste’ could mean several things. It could mean losing out on something, or not doing something efficiently.

Thus, the entire proverb ‘haste makes waste’ means that going too quickly can cause us to lose out. It means:

  • We should not be too hurried in our projects.
  • Going slowly and carefully is a way to avoid waste.
  • Not cutting corners, sometimes, gives a better end result.
  • Being careful with resources means that we do not waste them.

This proverb is somewhat ironic because it is often thought that doing things as quickly as possible is the best way to achieve a good result.

However, this proverb has the opposite meaning. It suggests that being hasty can waste several things, including:

  • Time
  • Resources
  • Opportunities
  • Ideas
  • Whatever you are working on at the time

In sum, this phrase means that hurrying through our tasks will often mean that we do not perform them efficiently.

Expansion of the proverb.

‘Haste makes waste’ is a proverb that encourages us to take our time over important things. This proverb admonishes us to plan ahead, and take time and care over every single step of a project.

We may think that getting things done quickly is the most efficient thing to do, but in our haste we may plan things badly, make mistakes that need to be rectified at a later date and cut corners that will ultimately cause us to take much more time on the project in the long run. Cutting corners at home, at work or at school may results in wasted time and resources. Taking time over something can be enjoyable and more productive. Skipping a plan can result in overspending or poor use of resources. Being less hasty can save time in the long run as we spend less time correcting hasty mistakes.

One of the striking things about this proverb is also its use of rhyme. When considered as a single sentence, the proverb contains an internal rhyme: ‘haste’ and ‘waste’. Many proverbs work with rhyme in this way. The two monosyllabic rhymes in this proverb, haste and waste, make it memorable. When proverbs are as old as this one, they were often part of an oral rather than a written culture and were passed down the generations by people saying them to each other rather than writing them down. Again, the use of rhyme will have made the proverbs more memorable.

Significance of the proverb.

“Haste makes waste” may sound like just a simple rhyme, but it actually has a useful significance that we can apply to our daily lives. We can apply this proverb to all aspects of our lives, from the tasks that we have to perform at work, to writing letters or emails to loved ones, to studying at school or learning a new skill. The significance of the proverb is summarized below:

1. Reminding us to take care with our work: slowing down and doing things carefully helps us to do a better job. When people do not cut corners, they actually save time in the long run as they do not need to go back and sort out all of the things that they did wrong when the job is complete.

2. Health and safety: being over hasty can often be dangerous for us at work, as well. We can slip on unseen obstacles or fail to read health and safety notices properly. As a result of accidents and injuries, a lot of time and money can be lost.

3. Appreciating the good things in life: moving hastily through life takes away our opportunities to appreciate the beauty of life. Why rush through a park on the way to work when you could stop and appreciate the beauty of nature, for example?

4. Forward planning: the proverb is a helpful reminder not to rush in to things without planning them first. An initial plan ensures that everything runs smoothly and that time and resources will not be wasted due to careless thinking.

5. Appreciating time: time is a valuable resource and it ought to be appreciated rather than wasted. Ironically, sometimes the biggest waste of time is rushing around trying to get things done. This proverb perfectly expresses that.

6. Relieving stress: rushing around can generate a whole lot of stress. Saying this proverb to oneself or to another person can really help to lighten the load that stress can place on our lives.

7. Saving money and resources: reducing waste is a good thing. When less waste is produced by both businesses and private individuals, their impact on the environment is lessened. And, producing less waste also helps to cut costs. This proverb suggests a simple way to eliminate waste from our lives: by being less hasty.

‘Haste makes waste’ is a great proverb to remember whenever we are rushing around and trying to get things done.

One of the advantages of this proverb is its near universal applicability. It can apply to so many different fields of life, including both work and leisure time. Whether it functions as a reminder to appreciate natural beauty or as a health and safety tip that reminds workers to think carefully before they start to endanger themselves by rushing, ‘haste makes waste’ enables people to enjoy a more cost effective, time efficient and stress free life style.

A proverb with very ancient roots, this is nevertheless a saying that is very much applicable to the modern world with its fast pace.

Category: Proverbs, Sayings, Idioms and Phrases

Haste makes waste

Posted by ESC on March 22, 2001

In Reply to: Haste makes no waste posted by crimminy on March 22, 2001

: :
: : What does the phrase "haste makes no waste" mean?
: : I would appreciate some assistance. Thank You!

: Sounds like a misstatement of "haste makes waste" -- which makes sense. As in, "the lazy man always does it twice," or in other words, sloppiness requires a do-over.

HASTE MAKES WASTE - "The notion of haste being counterproductive can be traced back at least to the apocryphal 'Book of Wisdom' (c. 190 B.C.) by Jesus Ben Sirach, which contained the line, 'There is one that toileth and laboureth, and maketh haste, and is so much the more behind.' Centuries later, Chaucer wrote in 'Canterbury Tales' (c. 1387), 'In wikked haste is not profit.'.A longer version of the saying was quoted in John Ray's 'A Collection of English Proverbs' : 'Haste makes waste, and waste makes want, and want makes strife between the goodman and his wife.'.an amusing counterpart in a Chinese proverb on the futility of hurrying - 'A hasty man drinks his tea with a fork.'." From "Wise Words and Wives' Tales: The Origins, Meanings and Time-Honored Wisdom of Proverbs and Folk Sayings Olde and New" by Stuart Flexner and Doris Flexner (Avon Books, New York, 1993).

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