Are you looking for a way to tell someone that they should create more than one path to success, and not focus all their efforts on one thing? Try using the idiom “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”. Discover what this idiom means, how to use it, and where it came from in this post.
The proverb “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” likely originates in Spain or Italy and has been a part of the English language for centuries.
It warns people against focusing all of their efforts on the hope that one particular venture or choice will succeed, and calls on people to keep their options open.
Take a look at these example sentences to better understand what “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” means, and get a feel for the ways in which you could use the phrase yourself:
- “My niece is thinking about quitting college to become a full-time YouTuber, but I told her not to put all her eggs in one basket and to finish that degree.”
- “Investors would tell you to diversify your portfolio. Your grandma would tell you that you shouldn’t put all of your eggs in one basket.”
- “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket unless you are also prepared to fail terribly.”
The idiom “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” invokes a vivid image. Eggs are notoriously fragile, and putting all of them in one literal basket means that all are likely to break if it were dropped.
If you wanted to maximize the odds that at least some of the eggs would stay intact, you would put them in multiple baskets, and give some of those baskets to others to carry.
The same holds true in life — by focusing all of your efforts on just one possible outcome, to the exclusion of all other possibilities, you risk losing everything.
While the precise origin of this proverb isn’t known, an earlier variation of the phrase appeared in Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes, in 1615. This version reads: “[It is] the part of a wise man to keep himself today for tomorrow, and not venture all his eggs in one basket.”
It has been speculated that the phrase originated in either Spain or Italy, but “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” has been in use in English for hundreds of years at this point.
The idiom is about risk management, and invites people to consider their life choices more carefully by keeping their options open, so that they have multiple possible paths to success or survival.
Phrases Similar to Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Instead of saying “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” to warn someone about taking undue risks by focusing all their efforts on one outcome, you could also say:
- Don’t bet on the wrong horse — the wrong horse being the one that doesn’t win the race.
- Don’t put everything on the line (for something or someone)
Phrases Opposite to Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Sometimes, concentrating all your efforts on one outcome is worth the risk. To convey this idea, you could say:
- Anything worth doing is worth doing right
- Go big or go home
- Sometimes the biggest risk is not taking any risks
What Is the Correct Saying?
The correct saying, “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, means that “betting” everything on one hoped-for outcome is risky.
Ways People May Say Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket Incorrectly
The idiom “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” warns against risk-taking, but only in cases where someone is ignoring other opportunities in order to succeed at one single hoped-for outcome in circumstances where it is considered dangerous.
If the “basket” is secure (meaning the outcome is fairly predictable), the phrase would not be used.
Acceptable Ways to Phrase Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket
Use the idiom “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” to warn someone against taking unnecessary risks by assuming that something will unfold in the way they hope for. You can tell someone who wants to quit a good and stable job to start a new business in an obscure field not to put all their eggs in one basket, for example.