The term kill two birds with one stone is a phrase that means to achieve two different goals in a single action.
Example: The front door to my house is in bad shape. I have trouble opening and closing it, plus it is dirty and has cracks in various places. The solution? I’m gonna kill two birds with one stone by getting the door replaced with a newer one. That way, I’ll have a working door again and it’ll be clean too.
The Origin Of ‘Kill Two Birds With One Stone’
The origin of the phrase ‘kill two birds with one stone’ is unclear, however, one theory for how it might have originated is from hunting. Birds are killed during hunting, after all. Oftentimes a hunter uses a gun or a knife to accomplish this, but a blunt object like a stone could be effective too.
How would the hunter kill two birds with one stone? He could just sneak up on some unsuspecting birds and throw it at one of them, then pick it up and repeat. Simply enough. However, this phrase might also derive from an older, similar expression that goes “to stop two gaps with one bush.” This older expression appears in The Proverbs of John Heywood, 1546:
“I will learne to stop two gaps with one bush.”
A little more than a century later, the phrase “two birds, one stone” is seen in a work by Thomas Hobbes called The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance, 1656:
“T. H. thinks to kill two birds with one stone, and satisfie two Arguments with one answer, whereas in truth he satisfieth neither.”
Since the phrase dates back to 1656, it’s at least 360 years old.
- We are shopping for food and clothes, and since the supermarket has both, we can kill two birds with one stone by going there.
- I want to lose weight and have more energy. By including healthier foods into my diet, I think I’ll be killing two birds with one stone.
- I’m not getting enough sleep at night because of my aching back. I might be able to fix these issues in one fell swoop by purchasing a softer mattress.
- This cleaning spray is great! It kills germs and leaves behind a lovely fragrance all in one go.