Where There’s a Will There’s a Way – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Would you like to lend someone a word of encouragement and let them know that they are going to find a way to accomplish their goals? The saying ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ is one of the most common ways in which someone can be given a word of encouragement. This term unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.

Meaning

The common term ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ is a saying that is used to mean if someone has the drive to do something, they will successfully accomplish it.

The expression ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ can be loosely translated to the same as saying, “if someone wants to do something, they will almost certainly achieve their goal(s).”

The term is most common as a means of motivation, whether this motivational intent is directed at one’s self or toward others.

The term ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ is often found in popular culture where it has been referenced in songs, books, movies and other media.

The term positively implies future success even when the actual outcome of the final situation that is being discussed is very clearly unknown to the participants.

Sometimes the term can also be used with sarcasm, irony or humor as a similar expression to: ‘There, I fixed it’ to indicate a less-than-ideal situation (or “way”) that something has been done or achieved.

The term is widely translated, and it appears in other languages often as a direct translation into the appropriate language.

Example Usage

“If you really want to meet a celebrity, then you just have to find all the places they go to and show up, hoping that you might get lucky. You know what they say,  where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

“If you really believe that you can make enough money in six months to move to another state, you should get saving up. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

“There’s usually an easier way to pay off your loans than the credit agreement tells you. All that you have to do is ask, and where there’s a will there’s a way.”

“If you aren’t married yet, all you have to do is just get out there and meet some people. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Origin

The phrase ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ is said to have first appeared in the collection of sayings called “Jacula Prudentusm” that was collected by George Herbert.

More than 1, 000 different expressions were collected in the text by Herbert, and the collection was published in the year 1640. Many of the expressions contained in this book were not common at the time of its publication, but slowly entered popular use thereafter.

Some sources also attribute the term to a paraphrasing of a sentence that appears in the Bible, in the book of Jeremiah.

While the passage from the Bible implies the “will and the way”, the exact phrasing differs between translations (and the Herbert text is assumed to have been first as original translations of the text did not give rise to the expression, but English ones might have contributed to its popular use).

Phrases Similar to Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

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Phrases Opposite to Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

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What is the Correct Saying?

  • Where there’s a will, there’s a way
  • Where there’s a will there’s a way

Ways People May Say Where There’s a Will There’s a Way Incorrectly

The term ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’ is used to express optimism toward a situation even when the outcome of the situation isn’t known or impossible to know.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Where There’s a Will There’s a Way

The expression ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’  is used to imply positive results, often as a motivation for someone (or sometimes as self-motivation instead).

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