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 they’re rooting for is losing and some of his friends are saying that there is no chance of a comeback. However, Jeff said to them, “It’s not over until the fat lady sings, they still have time to turn things around.”

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 first recorded use of the phrase “it’s not over till the fat lady sings” is believed to be from Ralph Carpenter in the newspaper 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 expression only dates back to the year 1976, it looks like its origin is not very old.

The “Fat Lady” Who Sings

What do you think of when you hear the word “opera”? Perhaps a theatrical performance with lots of singing and music. However, what about the 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 sometimes portrayed in forms of media people 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 a person as they 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 them, 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 and 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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