Kill Two Birds With One Stone

Meaning:

If someone says they’re going to “kill two birds with one stone,” it means they’re going to complete two different tasks with one action.

Example: The front door to my house is broken. Opening and closing it is a struggle, which makes doing simple things, like leaving or entering my home, a pain! On top of that, the door is filthy and I don’t feel like cleaning it.

So what am I gonna do about all this? Well, I plan on killing two birds with one stone by having the door replaced with a brand new one. That way, I’ll have a working door again and it’ll be clean.

Synonyms / Related Phrases:
1. In one fell swoop
2. Two for one
3. The best of both worlds
To kill two birds with one stone, depicting the saying.
Don’t worry, these two birds are perfectly fine. This is just, uh, how they sleep.

The Origin Of ‘Kill Two Birds With One Stone’

Unfortunately, the origin of the phrase “kill two birds with one stone” is unclear. However here are two theories for how it may have originated.

Theory #1:

This phrase may have derived from hunting. How so? A hunter doesn’t always need a gun or knife to hunt an animal, sometimes a little blunt force directly to the head is enough to get the job done.

But how would someone go about killing two birds with a single stone? Would they sneak up on a few unsuspecting birds and then drop a heavy stone on them? No, getting into position for that without the birds noticing would be too difficult. Okay, so how about throwing a small rock in such a way that it skips across their heads, like a pebble skimming across the water? No, let’s be honest, the chances of pulling that off would be pretty much impossible.

I think the only practical way for a hunter to do this would be to focus on one bird at a time with the same stone. Basically, he’d throw a decently sized rock at one bird, down it, and then pick up the same stone afterwards so he can use it on another. Thus two birds would effectively be killed with one stone. But why stop at two? If this method works, the hunter could theoretically off several birds with the stone.

Theory #2:

This saying may have derived from an older expression that goes “to stop two gaps with one bush.” This older expression makes an appearance 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 “two birds, one stone” phrase was used by Thomas Hobbes in a work of his 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.”

So did this phrase come from that older expression? It’s possible. Of the two theories, it sounds the most plausible to me. Anyways, what we do know for sure is this saying is at least over 360 years old.


Example Sentences Of ‘Kill Two Birds With One Stone’

Examples:

  • We want to buy some food and clothes. Since both of these things are at the supermarket, we can kill two birds with one stone if we shop there.
  • My place is a stinking mess. If I clean it, I’ll be killing two birds with one stone because not only will it look better, but it will smell better too.

Synonyms:

  • If your back is hurting and you’re not getting enough sleep at night, we might be able to fix both problems in one fell swoop by getting you a new mattress.
  • My parents live in Florida, so whenever I travel to visit them, it’s the best of both worlds. Why? Because I get to spend time with my family and also take a trip to Disney World while I’m at it.

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