There is a proverb in my language which says:

While there is big gap between now and the future and anything can happen in this time gap, so things can change in this period of time. Therefore, we should never be sure of our success or failure and we have to fight for it until the last second; because even when a good outcome or conclusion seems certain, things can still go wrong. (Encouraging) / (as an advice)


We shouldn't lose our hope and think that everything has been finished already when an unplesant / bad outcome or conclusion seems certain, things can still go well and you might face a very desirable outome at the end! (Hopegiving)

In our language, we have two interchangeable proverbs for this case which can be used either in hopegiving situation or encouraging state:

1- Literal Translation: When you throw an apple up, it turns a hundred times before it come down.

The second equivalent proverb in my mother language which can work properly in this sense:

2- Literal Translation: From this column to that column may be a relief.

The only equivalent that I succeeded to find it is:

  • There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.

But according to my researches, it sounds to be an archaic British proverb, whilst I'm looking for a proverb / expression in current AmE / BE.

I would appreciate it if you help me find the closest saying to the meaning in my question.

  • 1
    "There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip" is not really archaic, but it isn't in frequent current use, either. That sort of proverb or traditional saying does not seem much in fashion in current English. If I think of an appropriate saying or phrase, i will add it as an answer. Apr 26, 2019 at 15:58
  • 1
    ""There's many a slip twixt the cup and the lip" is not really archaic, but it isn't in frequent current use, either. --- I use it fairly often. Apr 26, 2019 at 17:09
  • One usually writes 'twixt with an initial apostrophe, because it is a shortening of betwixt. Apr 26, 2019 at 20:04

1 Answer 1


David is correct; in BE at least, proverbs in general are used much less today than in the past. I suspect this is partly because (in the UK) we used to be taught proverbs in preparation for the 11-plus test, used to grade pupils for selective secondary education. That examination and system only exists in a modified form, in small areas now.

"There's many a slip 'twixt cup and lip" is/was most usually used as a cautionary saying, rather than giving hope or encouragement. In the same vein are

"Don't count your chickens before they are hatched" and

"The best-laid plans of mice and men, oft gang agley (ie., go wrong!)" - originally from Burns' poem.

Characteristically, I'd say proverbs are not often very encouraging - they more usually convey a moral point. But the closest I can think of, offhand, would be

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try and try again",

"Every cloud has a silver lining",

"The longest journey begins with a single step"

though I don't believe any of these have exactly the meaning you are looking for.

  • "oft gang agley" -- I thought it was 'gang aft agley' Apr 26, 2019 at 17:10
  • That is what Burns wrote - but not what my family used to quote as a proverb!
    – Ian
    Apr 26, 2019 at 19:47

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