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The meaning and origin of the expression: A good beginning makes a good ending

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A good beginning makes a good ending

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What's the meaning of the phrase 'A good beginning makes a good ending'?

The proverbial saying 'a good beginning makes a good ending' expresses the opinion that preparation and a positive start to any enterprise is the key to a successful outcome.

What's the origin of the phrase 'A good beginning makes a good ending'?

This phrase is often attributed to the 20th century American writer Louis L'Amour. Search any quotations site and you will find him listed as the author of this proverb. However, all that shows is that these sites just cut and paste from each other and whichever site posted it first got it wrong. The proverb was in fact 600 years old when L'Amour began using it.

The meaning and origin of the phrase 'A good beginning makes a good ending'.L'Amour wrote simple cowboy stories with strong plots and often expressed the opinion that, to work well, a story needed a good opening. In saying that he connected the proverb to the opening and closing of stories, which is how many people today understand it. Again, that's not really right = the proverb doesn't relate especially to writing, it applies to any enterprise.

The first example of the proverb in print is in the collection of biographies known as The South‐English Legendary, circa 1300:

This was atte uerste me thingth [it seems to me] a good bygynnynge. Therafter was the betere hope to come to good endynge.

From that date onward the proverb appeared in many collections of proverbs printed in English, for example the MS Douce, circa 1350:

Of a gode begynnyng comyth a gode endyng.

The meaning and origin of the phrase 'A good beginning makes a good ending'.If we want to apply the proverb to present day activity perhaps decorating is more appropriate than storytelling. Any house painter knows that preparation is the key to a quality finish.

See also: the List of Proverbs.

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