Crying Over Spilled Milk

Meaning:

Being upset over something that has already happened and cannot be changed.

Note: Usually this phrase is said as “it’s no use crying over spilt milk,” which means that getting upset over certain things, like spilled milk, is not going to fix it.

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. It is what it is
2. It can’t be helped
A spilled milk bottle.
Oh no, the milk has spilled everywhere! *sobs* On second thought, it’s not that bad, really.

The Origin Of ‘Crying Over Spilled Milk’

The earliest I could find this phrase in writing with the exact wording it has today is from a book called Once A Week, 1872:

“A correspondent of the same paper, who signs himself ‘Octogenarian,’ raised the question of the date when ‘There’s no use crying over spilt milk’ first came into proverbial use.”

As you can see from the quote, this expression was already a known saying at the time, so it must obviously be older. And it is! There is a book by Hannah Maria Jones called Katharine Bereford; or, The shade and sunshine of woman’s life, 1852, and a part from it reads:

“But it’s no use fretting over shed milk.”

However, this saying is apparently even older than that! James Howell, a historian and writer, is said to have used the phrase in a book called called Paramoigraphy (Proverbs), 1659:

“No weeping for shed milk.”

In summary, this phrase is 360 years old at minimum. While plenty of expressions come and go over the centuries, old sayings like this one have stuck around and remain in common use.


Example Sentences

  • My kids were upset because they burned their toast, so I told them it’s no use crying over spilt milk and to just throw it away. They can always make more.
  • Bill’s car was was totaled in an accident. At first he was beside himself with anger, but he realized there was no point crying over spilled milk.

Note:Sometimes a phrase’s exact origin is unknown. If that happens, you may see an explanation on the page that talks about how the phrase may have originated. If no explanation is given, then you will probably see quotes of the expression being used in print. These quotes come from old newspapers, poems, or books. Their purpose is to give you an idea on how far back in history the expression goes.

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