Early Bird Gets the Worm - Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to tell someone to get an early start on something? If so, you could use the proverbial saying, "the early bird gets the worm." This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this proverbial saying.


The meaning of the saying "the early bird gets the worm" is that people that arrive early to events or get up early in the morning are more likely to find opportunities in their life.

By arriving early, you position yourself ahead of others, and you have a better chance of experiencing a lucky situation or achieving what you want in life.

The saying is a proverb, so it doesn't have a literal meaning. You can use the expression in many different circumstances. For instance, if you're trying to get your kids to bed early for school, you could tell them that "the early bird gets the worm" to let them know why they need to go to bed early.

You could also use it in professional situations where you're telling employees or colleagues to put in more effort to achieve what they want out of their careers.

Example Usage

"I was standing in line for four hours to get those tickets. I'm glad I got here at 5 am; now, it's sold out. The early bird gets the worm and looks like we're going to the concert!"

"Simon got here first today, and a client walked in and took a $1-million deal with him. I guess it's true when they say that the early bird gets the worm."

"C'mon, kids, off to bed. The early bird gets the worm, and tomorrow is another day."

"The early bird gets the worm, so get in during the promotional discount window and save yourself hundreds of dollars off the retail price."

"We have to get there before everyone else, or they'll be nothing left. The early bird gets the worm, so let's make sure we get out of the house by sunrise."


The origin of the saying "early bird gets the worm" comes from the 17th century. John Ray used the expression in his collection of writings, "A compleat collection of English Proverbs," published around 1670 to 1678. The saying appears as follows.

"The early bird catcheth the worm."

Phrases Similar to Early Bird Gets the Worm

  • Bright and early.
  • Ahead of the pack.
  • In before the rush.

Phrases Opposite to Early Bird Gets the Worm

  • Sitting around all day never got anyone anything.
  • Slowpoke.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • The early bird gets the worm.

Ways People May Say Early Bird Gets the Worm Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with birds or worms. This proverb means that showing up earlier than expected has benefits in life. By taking the time to get to a destination or complete a task earlier than others, you get to avoid confusion when the crowd arrives.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Early Bird Gets the Worm

You can use the phrase "the early bird gets the worm" when you're trying to tell someone that they need to get to a location early or that they need to wake up earlier in the morning to get more out of their day. The phrase suits professional and social use. If you're at work, the early bird gets the worm could mean that you get first access to the day's prospects. At home, it could be a way of telling your kids to get up earlier and stop wasting their time lying in bed.

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