Better Safe Than Sorry

Meaning:

The common phrase better safe than sorry means that it is better to choose the safer option than the riskier one, because if you decide to go with the risky option, then you may later regret it.

Example: Dale was about to go on a bike ride with his friend, but he did not want to wear a helmet because he thought it made him look silly. “It’s better safe than sorry,” his friend said in hopes that it would persuade him to wear it. Soon after, Dale conceded and put the helmet on.

Synonyms / Similar Phrases:

1. Safety first

Fastening seat belt, better safe than sorry.
Buckle up! It’s better to be safe than sorry.

What Is The Origin of “Better Safe Than Sorry”?

As the saying goes, better safe than sorry! However, when it comes to safety, people do not always choose the safer option when it’s available. For example, some people decide to leave their doors unlocked when leaving their home. “I live in a good neighborhood, it’ll be fine,” they reason. But how would they feel if they came back to a burglarized home? Obviously, they would regret their unsafe decision of not locking the door.

Another example is driving. Some people don’t want to wear a seat belt in their car. Why? Maybe because they consider themselves to be a safe driver or they think wearing one is uncomfortable. Regardless, it’s a big risk to take as any car accidents would be even more dangerous without a seat belt. Therefore, if two options are available — one safe, the other risky — it’s probably better to pick the safer option, otherwise you might be sorry later on. Or as the expression puts it, better safe than sorry!

Anyway, this phrase appears in print as early as the mid-19th century. For example, it’s used in Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer, Feburary 1859:

“Both parties during the first innings, played with great caution, having the motto in view, ‘better safe than sorry,’ and both sides were fully determined not to give more chance than they could help.”

The phrase is also used in Eliza Cook’s Journal, December 1851, but the word “safe” is replaced with “sure”:

“We lnaded at the rude jetty, rather hurriedly as the boatmen seemed to think, for one of them exclaimed: ‘Aisy, aisy, Sir! better be sure than sorry,’—a good maxim, worthy of being noted, like those of Captain Cuttle.”

And finally, its earliest appearance (that I know of) comes from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, May 1847:

“He (Mr. N ) again begged it to be distinctly understood that what he had stated he merely threw out as a suggestion, considering that it was always better to be ‘safe than sorry.’ “


See Also: If you need something to read, consider checking out 10 funny sayings that people either say wrong or get confused by. Who knows, maybe you’ll learn something!


Example Sentences For “Better Safe Than Sorry”

Here are two examples of this common saying in a sentence:

  • Before heading to work in the morning, I take a few seconds to lock the door to my house. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
  • Whenever I’m driving in my car, I make sure to buckle up by wearing my seat belt; better safe than sorry!

Similar Examples:

  • One of the rules in this house is to keep the stairway clear of any tripping hazards; safety first I say.
  • He’s wearing a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads. Why? Because he is trying out rollerblades for the first time and he wants to be as careful as possible. Safety first!