If Wishes Were Horses Beggars Would Ride Essay Definition

Meaning:

It is not enough to wish for something, you have to take action to make it happen

Background:

The first known reference to this saying is in Proverbs in Scots, collected and arranged by James Carmichaell: And wishes were horses pure [poor] men wald ryde. The date of this book is unclear but Carmichaell died in 1628 and it is believed the collection was published during his life.

Other variations on this expression can be found such as "if wishes were thrushes beggars would eat," in Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine published by William Camden. Camden lived from 1551-1623 so would have recorded this variation in the same general time frame as Carmichaell.

At least one other 17th century version exists, recorded in John Ray's  A Collection of English Proverbs, 1670: "If wishes were buttercakes, beggers might bite."

Today you likely know this expression, as: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

What you may not know is the full nursery rhyme as recorded by James Orchard Halliwell around 1840:

If wishes were horses
Beggars would ride:
If turnips were watches
I would wear one by my side.
And if if’s and an’s were pots and pans,
The tinker would never work!

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Also known as a proverb, “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride” is a traditional nursery rhyme originating from the 16th century England.

The meaning of the proverb is that it is not enough to wish upon something, you have to take action if you want it to happen.

A similar proverb was first recorded in the “Remaines of a Greater Worke, Concerning Britaine” published by William Camden (1551–1623) “If wishes were thrushes beggers would eat”. The first version of the proverb, closed to the modern version, was published in the Scottish Proverbs, Collected and Arranged by James Kelly, in 1721.

The rhyme as it is known today was published in James Orchard Halliwell’s English Nursery Rhymes collection around 1840s. It had a different last line, meant to encourage the children working more and questioning less:” If if’s and and’s were pots and pans, there’d surely be dishes to do”

“If wishes were horses” Lyrics

If wishes were horses
Beggars would ride:
If turnips were watches
I would wear one by my side.
And if if’s and an’s were pots and pans,
The tinker would never work!

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