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Make Hay While the Sun Shines

hay bales in a field at dusk. make hay while the sun shines

Make Hay While the Sun Shines Definition

Make hay while the sun shines

  • Make the most of an opportunity while the opportunity exists.

Make Hay While the Sun Shines Examples

  • You must make hay while the sun shines. The test is in a week, but there’s only so many study hours between then and now!
  • My husband complains a make my scallion sauce too much. But the onions I like are only available for a few weeks! You know what they say, make hay while the sun shines.


The generation before me certainly told me that there would come a point when there were fewer parts, telling me to make hay while the sun shone. There was a time in my late thirties when I thought that it was something I had to get myself ready for, that things were going to slow down as I hit 40.

Nicola Walker

I thought I’d go away and make one album, but it was extended. The album did so well, and they wanted another album. I was on a high. You make hay while the sun shines, and I was doing it, and you think about yourself; that’s what you do.

Ronan Keating

Make Hay While the Sun Shines Origin

Literary Origin

Than one minute after ; than haste must provoke When the pigge is proffer d to hold up the poke ; When the Sunne shineth make hay ; which is to say, Take time when time comth, lest time steale away. And one good lesson to this purpose I pike From the smith’s forge, when th’ iron is hot, strike.

The Proverbs of John Heywood, Julian Sharman 1874 (content from John Heywood 1546)

The earliest record of our idiom comes from the recorded works of the English writer and playwright John Heywood. Heywood is a famous historic playwright with a strong connection to The Village Idiom for his work collecting and publishing well known proverbs of his time. Many of which we still use in some form today!

Some sources claim this Old English version of our idiom was recorded in his long-winded title A Dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the Prouerbes in the Englishe tongue. But research only shows it appearing in a later recording of his work, written by a Julian Sharman in 1874. Which means our idiom may have come from a separate and unfinished work by the English playwright.

The passage above by John also includes another common proverb ‘to strike while the iron is hot’ which has a very similar meaning to this article’s namesake.

Spiritual Origin

Sources claim this idiom actually originated in Tudor England during medieval times. That farmers of Tudor used the phrase quite literally at a time when cutting and drying hay during warm, dry weather was crucial to not lose your crop. There is however no written proof known to back up this origin. With Heywood being a researcher of proverbs, it is likely that this is not the real origin of this phrase. But it is the earliest recording found at this time.