The phrase ‘the grass is always greener on the other side‘ is a metaphor that means a person’s idea of something may seem more appealing or better in comparison to what they currently have, even if this is not the case.
Example: I thought my life would be better if I had my friend’s job. However, my brother said to me, “The grass is greener on the other side. Your current job is fine and it has flexible hours, so be content with that.”
Note: With this metaphor, the ‘greener grass’ represents what is new and exciting, while the ‘yellow grass,’ if you will, represents what is familiar and boring.
The Origin of ‘The Grass Is Always Greener’
This expression is a metaphor involving two sides of grass, and oftentimes a fence is in between them. On one side, the grass represents what a person already has—things they have grown accustomed to. Hence the ‘grass’ on this side appears bland and boring. However, on the other side of the fence is ‘greener grass,’ which corresponds to a person’s idea of something that looks newer and better than what they currently have; hence this grass appears more interesting and exciting.
Anyway, how did this phrase originate? It’s not known, so we can only speculate on the matter. It could be that its origin is with farmers and the livestock they deal with on a daily basis. For example, a farmer might have animals in a fenced off area, and every now and then he or she observes them reaching their heads over the fence to eat the grass on the other side. Hence, perhaps they thought of the expression after noticing such behavior.
In any case, what is known about this expression is that it goes back to the early 20th century. Interestingly, I could not find it in print until the 1920s. Near the start of that decade it appears in the Windsor And Richmond Gazette newspaper, July 1921:
‘The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,’ and to Michael Strange the attraction of the city seemed far more desirable than the peaceful quiet of Security, Mass.
- I am considering moving to Canada because I think it would be more interesting to live there. But then again, the grass is always greener on the other side, as the saying goes.
Tip: People use phrases like this every day in conversations. For a full list of sayings and to help you navigate around, try using the menu at the top.