discretion is the better part of valor

Idioms & Phrases

discretion is the better part of valor

It is better to be prudent than merely courageous, as in I'm signing up for the easy course first; discretion is the better part of valor. This proverb, a synonym of look before you leap, was first recorded in 1477. Charles Churchill put it in poetic form: "Even in a hero's heart, Discretion is the better part" (The Ghost, 1762). Shakespeare also used a form of it: "The better part of valor is discretion" (1 Henry IV, 5:4).

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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