Menu Close

Kill Two Birds with One Stone

Two geese fly over a river. kill two birds with one stone
Praise Aflac. Let thine aim be true!

Kill Two Birds with One Stone Definition

Kill two birds with one stone. To solve two problems with a single action.


Back in the day if you were hunting birds for food (or sport) killing two at once would pretty sweet.

Kill Two Birds with One Stone Example

  • “Hey they added a gas station to the grocery store! I needed to fill up anyway, might as well kill two birds with one stone!”
  • “I like to kill two birds with one stone. By riding my bike to work I get exercise during my commute!”

PETA’d Out

Model in a open coffin protesting fur use in clothes. kill two birds with one stone
PETA’s campaign against the fashion giant Armani.

You could also Feed two birds with one scone. This idiom has been deemed offensive by some including the organisation PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). They have even gone so far as too launch a campaign to stop the use of phrases they consider “species-ism”. They recommend instead some animal friendly alternatives such as:

  • Bringing home the bagels Vs. Bringing home the bacon.
  • Take the rose by the thorns Vs. Take the bull by the horns.
  • Feed a fed horse Vs. Beat a dead horse.
  • Be the test tube Vs. Be the guinea pig.

While none of us want unnecessary harm to animals. PETA and their far out campaigns can be a little much:

  • PETA has petitioned to change the word fish to ‘sea kitten’ to change fisherman’s minds about their trade of choice.
  • They attempted a campaign claiming animals as the ‘new slaves’ while portraying images of chained elephants next to black slaves and child workers.
  • Comparing penned chickens to the holocaust in a campaign titled “holocaust on your plate”.
  • Publicly criticizing president Obama for swatting a fly during a televised interview


Kill two birds with one stone, feed the homeless to the hungry.

Ray Bradbury

Known for his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 and the horror collection The Martian Chronicles Ray Bradbury is a popular sci-fi author and screenwriter.

The stone in our phrase may actually be a bullet. Back in the 13th-14th century the first ammunition were rounded stones known as gun-stones.[4]

Kill Two Birds with One Stone Origin

Literal Origin

A book by author J. Morgan Dent written in 1632 contains the earliest example.

“came resolved to kill two Birds with one Stone, return the Spaniards their Compliments, and conduct his insolent Turks, where he was certain at least some of them would be knocked on the head.”[5]

A Complete History of the Present Seat of War in Africa Between the Spaniards and Algerines by J. Morgan Dent

Another quote exists from a debate between English philosopher Thomas Hobbes and the Archbishop John Bramhall in 1656.

“T. H. thinks to kill two birds with one stone, and satisfy two arguments with one answer.”.

-John Bramhall
Portrait of Thomas Hobbes. kill two birds with one stone
Thomas Hobbes

Spiritual Origin

If we go further back in time, we discover a very similar idiom to stop to gaps with one bush. This means to block two gaps in a fence with a single bush or shrub. This alternative is found in an excerpt in 1562.

“Ye neuer could yet (quoth she) recouer any hap,
To win or saue ought, to stop any one gap.
For stoppyng of gaps (quoth he) care not a rushe,
I will learne, to stop two gaps with one bushe.”[6]

-John Heywoodes woorkes

It’s likely that similar phrases in other languages date back even further. Idioms that mutated over time to become the idiom we now know. The Ancient Roman poet Ovid (43 BC – 17/18 AD) wrote the Labors of Tiresias. In the poem Tiresias hit two mating snakes with one hit of a stick. Upset by this Hera Zeus’ wife transformed Tiresias into a woman.

1 Comment

Comments are closed.