What does the phrase better safe than sorry mean? That it’s better to choose the safer option than the riskier one, because if you decide to go with the riskier 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. However, his friend insisted that he wear one for protection, so Dale conceded and wore a helmet. “Good choice, better safe than sorry,” his friend said.
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 is available. For example, some people decide to leave their doors unlocked when leaving their home. “I live in a good neighborhood, it’ll probably be fine,” they reason. But how would they feel if they came back to a burglarized home? Obviously, they would regret their decision to not lock the door.
Another example is driving. Some people don’t want to wear a seat belt in their car. “I’m a safe driver, I’ll be okay,” they reason. That might be true for the most part, but all it takes is a single time for another driver, perhaps a drunken one, to swerve into another car. This potentially fatal situation would be even more dangerous if nobody is wearing a seat belt! Thus, if two options are available, one of them safe, the other risky, it’s probably better to pick the safer option, otherwise you might be sorry later on!
Anyway, this expression 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 I head to the grocery store, I should take a few seconds to lock the door to my house. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Whenever I drive in my car, I make sure to buckle up by wearing my seat belt; better safe than sorry!
- 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!
- The stairway in my house must always be clean and free from any potential tripping hazards; safety first I say.