It Ain’t Over Till The Fat Lady Sings

Meaning:

One should not assume the outcome of a situation until it reaches its end, because the circumstances can change.

Example: The Pistons were in the lead, so Jeff believed they were going to win the game. However, his friend said: “I wouldn’t be so sure of that. It’s not over until the fat lady sings. The Lakers can still turn the 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. Thus, his friend was basically saying “it’s not over yet.”)

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
It ain’t over till it’s over
Don’t count your chickens before they hatch
A fat lady sings opera in a purple dress.

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. 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! Upon hearing this five letter word, what springs to mind? Probably theatrical performances with lots of singing and music. However, what about when you think specifically of opera singers? For some people, they picture a stereotypical fat lady who wears a horned helmet. Why is that?

It could be due to how opera singers were sometimes portrayed in forms of media we watched while growing up. For example, in certain cartoons, an opera singer might be represented exactly as described—an overweight lady with a horned helmet. This representation of a “fat lady” with a 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 mind, opera singers come in all shapes and sizes. Do they tend to be more on the heavier side? Maybe. I’ve heard some people 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 losing in this game of Monopoly, but I haven’t given up yet. It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

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