The proverb ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ means that if a torn piece of cloth is not stitched then the tear will only get bigger with time. The reference is towards solving the problems faced or dispensing the responsibilities on time; otherwise, they will only get bigger and unmanageable. The simple meaning is that the problems also get bigger like the tear if they are not attended immediately.
An example is the best way to understand the true meaning of a proverb. Real-life examples will let you better understand the everyday use of the proverb. I am giving below a couple of examples for the proverb ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ for your knowledge and information.
“The Principal told the students in the assembly – If you want to do well in exams then you should start studying from today because a stitch in time saves nine.”
“The government started taking preventive measures right when the first case of COVID-19 was discovered. This has saved millions of lives because a stitch in time saves nine.”
“The dam developed a crack which was immediately repaired by the supervisor in charge. Perhaps, he knew that a stitch in time saves nine.”
“The bridge was in bad shape and needed repair, but it wasn’t attended and crumpled in the storm. Now the whole thing needs to be build again. I only wish the contractor had known that a stitch in time saves nine.”
“When parents notice a bad habit in their child, they immediately take action to remove it. They do so because the life experience has taught them that ‘a stitch in time saves nine.”
The proverb ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ is in use for a long time. Not much is known about the phrase’s exact origin; though, it first came to light in a book compiled by a British writer and physician, Thomas Fuller.
In Fuller’s work titled “Gnomolgia, Adagies, and Proverbs”; there appears a phrase that is slightly different from the one in question. The phrase appearing in the book was ‘A stitch in time may save nine’.
Later, the permissible ‘may’ in the sentence was removed and it became ‘A stitch in time saves nine.”
Expansion of the Proverb
‘A stitch in time saves nine’ states that a hole in a garment or cloth must be stitched immediately; otherwise, it will lead to more holes in the future that would need more stitches. It is advisable not specifically limited to clothes but also to other aspects of life, like problems and responsibilities.
In other words, if we keep on postponing our responsibilities or neglect a problem thinking that it’s too small to act, then in the future, the problems will only get bigger, requiring a larger effort. So, it is wise to act when the problems are small, otherwise, in the future one will have to pay a bigger price for negligence.
The proverb ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is an important advice for everyone. It doesn’t target any specific individual or group; rather it teaches a lesson to people from different walks of life. It advises to carry out the responsibilities and immediately address a problem, how so ever small it might seem.
To students, for instance, it advices to clear their doubts at the beginning itself, otherwise, they will only get bigger with time, affecting their performance. Small doubts when not cleared, will lead to bigger doubts and finally affecting the score.
Similarly, the advice holds true for professionals as well. How many times have you neglected that small problem or postponed a responsibility, because it seems just too small at that time. Have you noticed that with time that problem had only grown bigger? That exactly what happens and that’s what the proverb warns us about.
Short Stories on ‘A Stitch In Time Saves Nine’
A story is an interesting and often the best option to understand the meaning of a proverb. If the story is well thought and had real-life characters then you will never forget the morale. I am giving here a couple of stories based on the proverb ‘A stitch in time saves nine’ for the readers.
Short Story 1
There lived an old priest with his wife, living in a temple. The responsibility of the upkeep of the temple was on the priest but he was a miser. He would think ten times before spending a dime, even on important things.
There was a small crack in the roof in which they lived. During the summer, his wife had warned the priest to get that crack repair as it would be a problem when rain arrives. The priest didn’t want to spend money and kept on postponing it.
Soon enough, the rainy season arrived and the wife once again warned him of the crack. The priest replied – “It’s very small. Only a few drops of water are dripping. I don’t want to spend money on such small things!” The poor wife had no option but to let go.
Within the next month, it rained so heavily that the crack in the roof became bigger and bigger every day. In the end, it was unbearably big and the room got flooded within minutes of rain. The roof evidently required much repair than it had at the beginning of the rainy season. The priest had no option but to pay a bigger price for his negligence.
He was regretting why he didn’t take action when the damage was small. His wife told him that there is no point in worrying now and asked him to always remember that ‘A stitch in time saves nine’. That is, if he had acted in time he wouldn’t have to spend more money today.
Short Story 2
There was a boy who had a habit of carelessness. He tends to be careless, whether in studies or in anything else. His mother and teachers would often warn him but he wouldn’t care. They tell him to study for a few hours every day in order to avoid stress during the examination. But, the boy as usual would pay no heed to the advice. Every day he would think that it is just a single chapter that the teacher taught at school. I can study whenever I want. A couple of pages are not a big deal after all.
Within a couple of months, exams came. The boy was in the sorriest state and looked worried. The couple of pages that he neglected reading every day have piled up in the form of a book. It wasn’t possible to study the whole book within a couple of days that he had.
However, his mother and teachers very generously came for his help and advised him on important topics. When the boy passed the exam and went on to thank his teachers, one of them named Mr. Nataraju, told the boy to always remember that a stitch in time saves nine and never be negligent towards anything.