What does “putting the cart before the horse” mean?

Learn about the meaning and usage of the idiom "Putting the Cart Before the Horse." Find examples, historical origins, and synonyms for this common English phrase.

Understanding the Idiom

Definition and Usage

“Putting the cart before the horse” is an English idiom that refers to doing things in the wrong order or illogical order.

It is a figure of speech known as hysteron proteron, in which the thing that should come second is put first.

This idiom is used to describe situations where someone is doing something before the necessary preparation or steps have been taken.

For example, if someone decides to book a flight before applying for a visa, they are putting the cart before the horse.

The idiom is often used to warn people against making hasty decisions or taking actions without proper planning.

Historical Origins
The origins of the idiom can be traced back to ancient Greece, where the figure of speech hysteron proteron was first used.

The English writer John Heywood is associated with an early use of this idiom.

Heywood used this phrase in his book “A Dialogue Conteinyng Prouerbes and Epigrammes,” which was published in 1546.

Example Sentences

  • She decided to buy a car before getting her driver’s license, putting the cart before the horse.
  • He started planning the party before booking the venue, putting the cart before the horse.
  • They began painting the walls before filling in the cracks, putting the cart before the horse.

Can you give an example of “putting the cart before the horse” in a sentence?

Sure, putting the cart before the horse can be seen in a situation where someone starts planning a wedding before even being in a committed relationship. Understanding “pipe down” meaning is crucial in communication to avoid misinterpretations.

Synonyms

  • Doing things out of order
  • Jumping the gun
  • Getting ahead of oneself

Overall, “putting the cart before the horse” is a common idiom in the English language, used to warn people against doing things in the wrong order or without proper preparation.