What Is The Origin Of The Phrase 'Don't Put All Your Eggs In One Basket'?


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This phrase is often attributed to Miguel Cervantes, the contemporary of Shakespeare and author (in 1605) of the world-famous "Don Quixote." However, in fact Cervantes' original Spanish doesn't use this phrase; various English translators have used it to convey his meaning.

The phrase is probably as old as Cervantes or even older; the first certain recorded use is in a 1660 text, where it is clearly already a well known proverb. After this it appears frequently, always with the same meaning of "Don't put all your resources (money, time, energy) into the same project, in case that project fails." There is a German saying "Make sure you have a lot of legs to stand on," which is the same idea, but looked at from a more positive angle.

Mark Twain had a comic version of the same proverb: "Put all your eggs in one basket - and watch the basket!"

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