A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Meaning:

It's better to have a small real advantage than the possibility of a greater one.

Origin:

This proverb refers back to mediaeval falconry where a bird in the hand (the falcon) was a valuable asset and certainly worth more than two in the bush (the prey).

The first citation of the expression in print in its currently used form is found in John Ray's A Hand-book of Proverbs, 1670, which he lists it as:

A [also 'one'] bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

By how much the phrase predates Ray's publishing isn't clear, as variants of it were known for centuries before 1670. The earliest English version of the proverb is from the Bible and was translated into English in Wycliffe's version in 1382, although Latin texts have it from the 13th century:

Ecclesiastes IX - A living dog is better than a dead lion.

Alternatives that explicitly mention birds in hand come later.

The term bird in hand must have been known in the USA by 1734, as that is the date when a small town in Pennsylvania was founded with that name.

 

解释:

有真实的比任何期望的要强。

出处:

这个比喻产生于中古时期,人们还是狩猎的时候。那时,如果人们手里有一只猎鹰,那就是很有价值的, 那绝对是比在草丛中两个猎物更有价值。

近代引用这个比喻出现在1670年,当约翰·雷写作了他的“成语手册”的时候就把这个成语收藏了。他是这样记录这个成语的:

A [或者 'one'] bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

既然这个成语已经被约翰·雷记录,那开始使用这个成语一定更早,但是我们无法确定到底是从什么时候开始的。我们找到了一些比1670年早的略有变异的词句和用法。在英文中使用这个比喻的最早版本是1382年,在威克立夫翻译的英文圣经里用到了,然而在拉丁语里这个比喻在第13世纪就用了。

圣经《传道书》第九章里说,“活着的狗比死了的狮子更强”。

以后,这个比喻就使用鸟(猎鹰)来代替了。

“手中的猎鹰”这个说法在美国变得家喻户晓是在1734年,那时宾西维尼亚州的一个小镇以此命名。