It Ain’t Over Till The Fat Lady Sings


It ain’t over till the fat lady sings is a phrase that means a person should not assume the outcome of a situation until it reaches its end, because the circumstances can change.

Example: Jeff is watching football with his friends. The team their rooting for is losing, so his friends think the game is over. However, Jeff tells them: “It’s not over until the fat lady sings, they still have time to turn things around.”
Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
2. It ain’t over till it’s over
The Saying: It ain't over till the fat lady sings

Th Origin Of “It Ain’t Over Till The Fat Lady Sings”

The phrase “it’s not over till the fat lady sings” likely has a connection to opera (see paragraph below for further details). It’s first recorded use is believed to be from Ralph Carpenter in the Dallas Morning News, March 1976. To give context for the following quote, a basketball game was being played and the score was tied. Commenting on the game, Carpenter stated:

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

Since the first recording of this phrase in print only dates back to the year 1976, it’s origin does not appear to be very old.

The “Fat Lady” Who Sings

Opera! When you hear this five letter word, you probably think of a theatrical performance with lots of singing and music. However, what about opera singers themselves? When some people picture them, they might think of a stereotypical fat lady who wears a horned helmet. Why is that?

One reason could be because of how opera singers were portrayed in forms of media we watched growing up. For example, in certain cartoons, an opera singer might be represented as an overweight lady with a horned helmet. This kind of imagery can then stick with us as we grow older. This specific representation of the “fat lady” with the horned helmet is believed to be based on Richard Wagner’s “Brunhilde” from the Ring Cycle.

Are All Opera Singers Fat?

No, opera singers come in all shapes and sizes. Do they tend to be more on the heavier side? Maybe. Some say that being overweight makes it easier to sing. According to those making this claim, having extra weight makes it easier for a person to control their diaphragm. Whether that is true or not, well, I’m no expert on the subject.

Example Sentence

  • I’m playing Go Fish with my niece. So far she’s winning, but I haven’t given up yet. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.
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