Kill Two Birds with One Stone – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Are you looking for a way to say you can complete two tasks with a single action? You could say you’re going to “kill two birds with one stone” and make things easier in your life. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The expression “kill two birds with one stone” means completing two tasks with one action. It’s a way of saying that you can take care of more than one important thing without experiencing any drop in your efficiency. If you “kill two birds with one stone,” you’re saving yourself time and effort in your life.

It can refer to a solution resolving two problems physically or theoretically. You could say that an equation solves two math or science problems simultaneously. Or you could say that a physical activity like riding a bike makes you fit and gives you transport at the same time.

Example Usage

“Let’s go past the licensing department, and I can collect my new driver’s license before we head to the store to shop. That way, I can kill two birds with one stone while we’re out.”

“Let’s organize the meeting for that cafe around the corner at 1 pm. We can have some food while we talk business and kill two birds with one stone.”

“Let’s get the bloodwork for the hemochromatosis done while we’re sending in the blood for the kidney panel. That way, we can kill two birds with one stone.”

“We’ll drop past the dry cleaners on the way back from filling up at the gas station. That way, we can kill two birds with one stone.”

“I’m going over to Kim’s to study. That way, we can have some time together and prepare for the test. It will kill two birds with one stone.”

“If you want to kill two birds with one stone, then go surfing in the morning. You get to enjoy the ocean and stay fit. It’s killing two birds with one stone.”

Origin

The expression “kill two birds with one stone” originates from the mid-1600s. It’s a phrase from the Greek Mythological legend, “Daedalus and Icarus.” Another more-likely origin is from The Proverbs of John Heywood, written in 1546, where it appears as follows.

“I will learne to stop two gaps with one bush.”

Around a century after its appearance, the saying would show up in 1656 in “The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance,” written and published by Thomas Hobbes.

“T. H. thinks to kill two birds with one stone, and satisfie two Arguments with one answer, whereas in truth he satisfieth neither.”

Phrases Similar to Kill Two Birds with One Stone

  • Flutter two hearts with one look.
  • Free two birds with one key.
  • Let’s pull two weeds with one yank

Phrases Opposite to Kill Two Birds with One Stone

  • Miss your window.
  • Lose a chance.

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Kill two birds with one stone.

Ways People May Say Kill Two Birds with One Stone Incorrectly

The phrase has nothing to do with killing birds to throwing stones at these animals. The birds are tasks or things you need to complete in your life. You kill them with a single action or by throwing a stone. It’s a way of saying that you got rid of two tasks with a single action.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Kill Two Birds with One Stone

You can use the phrase, “kill two birds with one stone,” when telling someone they achieved two of their goals with a single task. The term can refer to physical or verbal altercations, and it suits social and professional use.

Use it at the office when you close a client, and they sign up for the rewards program at the same time. Use it at home when it rains and washes out the driveway and gutters, removing your need to clean both. It’s a way of saying that you intentionally or inadvertently achieved two objectives with a single action.

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