It Ain’t Over Till the Fat Lady Sings – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to motivate yourself or a team to give it all they’ve got in the face of adversity? You can use “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The saying “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” is a motivating statement used to let people know that there is still a chance to turn things around in their favor.

The saying can apply to sports, work, or any situation in life where you are the underdog, but there’s a chance that you come out on top, so don’t give up.

The phrase suits situations where you’re trying to tell people that “it isn’t over till it’s over,”  and they should give everything they have to turn things around.

Example Usage

“Don’t give up, team; there’s still a minute left on the clock. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, so give it all you’ve got till the whistle.”

“This deal isn’t a total loss yet. I can bring the client around. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

“You think you’ve got me, but I still have half my life left in the game. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.”

Origin

The origin of the expression “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” comes from American sports presenter Ralph Carpenter in 1976. The phrase appeared in The Dallas Morning News in March 1976, where it appears as follows.

“Right. The opera ain’t over until the fat lady sings.”

Dan Cook, another sports broadcaster, used the phrase “the opera ain’t over till the fat lady sings” in a televised college basketball commentary in 1978.

The book “Southern Words and Sayings,” authored by Charles Rayford Smith and Fabia Rue and published in 1976, uses two versions of the expression.

“Church ain’t out till the fat lady sings” and “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings the blues.”

Cook’s and Carpenter’s use of the phrase led to widespread adoption during the 1970s.

Phrases Similar to It ain’t over till the Fat Lady Sings

  • It ain’t over till it’s over.
  • Nothing is carved in stone.
  • Never give up.
  • Keep pushing.

Phrases Opposite to It ain’t over till the Fat Lady Sings

  • We’re done here.
  • It’s over.
  • We have no chance.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
  • The show isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

Ways People May Say It ain’t over till the Fat Lady Sings Incorrectly

Some people may use the phrase to describe being in a winning position and holding the top spot against the competition.

This is a technically correct use of the expression. However, it’s more common for people to use it when they are the underdog in a situation.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase It ain’t over till the Fat Lady Sings

You can use the phrase “it ain’t over till the fat lady sings” when you’re trying to motivate people not to give up on a task or project.

It’s a way of saying that the tables could turn in your favor at any time. Typically, people will use the phrase when you’re not reaching your target or goal or behind competitors in a task or competition.

The phrase suits social and professional use. You could use it at work to motivate your sales team to hit the target with minimal time left before closing your books for the month.

Or you could use it to motivate your sports team to keep trying to make a comeback in the dying minutes of the game.

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