I encountered the following sentence while reading a book:

We soon discovered that many slips are possible between the cup of a promising idea and the lips of real-life applications, and that only a thorough understanding of these intermediate steps can turn a promising idea into something really useful and practical.

I can figure out the meaning from the context:

There might be many dangers between ideas and applications of the ideas. So the idea alone is not enough.

But I cannot figure out what the 'lips of' means there.


The quoted phrase is just a modern allusion to the aphorism, “There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip“. The literal meaning is: though You might mean or plan to take a drink from a cup, completing the task without spillage is never certain until after the task is complete. This is synonymous to the idiom, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch”

| improve this answer | |
  • It might be better described as an allusion to the aphorism. – Gary Botnovcan Jul 6 at 3:52
  • @GaryBotnovcan - Sure, why not. – Dean F. Jul 6 at 3:56
  • 'twixt is short for betwixt, an archaic form of between. – Michael Harvey Jul 6 at 7:40
  • Why is it many a slip instead of many slips? – kevin012 Jul 6 at 8:27
  • @kevin012 It's another example of archaic usage. – Kate Bunting Jul 6 at 8:54

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.