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: The Pistons are in the lead and Jeff believes they will win the game. However, his friend said: “They haven’t won yet; it’s not over until the fat lady sings. The Lakers can still turn this game around.”

(In this example, Jeff assumes that the Pistons will win, but that outcome is not guaranteed. There’s still enough time left in the game for things to change. So his friend was basically saying “it’s not over yet.”)

Synonyms: it ain’t over till it’s over, don’t count your chickens before they hatch

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” 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 some 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 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 theatrical performances with lots of singing and music. However, what about when you think specifically of opera singers? Some people picture 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 the 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 when we grow older. Of note, 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, despite the stereotypical imagery that may come to some people’s minds, opera singers come in all shapes and sizes. Do they tend to be more on the heavier side? Maybe. I’ve heard it said that being overweight makes it easier to sing. According to those who make 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 may be losing in this intense game of Monopoly, but I haven’t given up yet. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

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