I have a question about a phrase (an idiom), which can be roughly said as:

You have only one life (to live) and it's not going to happen again.

I'm not sure if it's correct, most likely not. What I want is a meaning of this phrase, not said like "You have only one" but like "Life is just one" or "One has only one" if you know what I mean. Not saying to someone: "You have" but saying it like a general statement ("One have" or "There's a..."). Something like:

One has only one life and it's not going to happen again (or repeat).

I thought about replacing the part "happen again" with something like "repeat" which would suit better from my point of view but as far as I searched the web, it's not used in this kind of phrase.

Suggestions for more less widely used or known phrases welcomed.

closed as off topic by MetaEd, Kris, tchrist, Robusto, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Dec 28 '12 at 18:35

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This is usually rendered as

I have but one life to live.

Nathan Hale famously turned this around as he was about to be executed by the British:

I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.

  • My high-school typing teacher modified this slightly and referred to the "*" as the "Nathan Hale" key. Of course we asked why, and he explained that as Nathan Hale was about to be executed, he said: "I only regret that I have but one asterisk for my country." – MT_Head May 16 '11 at 22:26

I've only got one life, and one pair of hands.

is a version of this saying that you may remember if you're familiar with the video or audiobook Mr. Bach Comes to Call (see transcript 1:39-1:44 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U-t0UxHopg).


carpe diem

This is not an English phrase, to be sure, though it is well-known to English speakers. In my opinion -- thanks to Dead Poets Society -- it is a hackneyed phrase, but it captures something of what you want to convey.

Originally from Horace Odes 1.11:

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero

Seize the day trusting as little as possible in tomorrow

Simply put: "Live it up, 'cause you only go 'round once"


How about "Que sera, sera", or in English

Whatever will be, will be.

It avoids a direct address, and can be used in the same sense of "you don't know what is going to happen, so you might as well try"


How about

We only go around once.

or even as straightforward as

You only live once.

(There is a Bond movie that suggests otherwise, however.)


You also asked for a "not you" phrase, which I haven't provided. How about

The clock of life is wound but once.

I think this is a line from a Robert Smith poem.

  • 1
    As I recall, the Schlitz Brewing Company ran a campaign with the following slogan: "You only go around once in life, so do it with gusto. Schlitz - go for the gusto!" – The Raven May 16 '11 at 20:46
  • 1
    My favorite is: You only live once - but if you do it right, once is enough. – MT_Head May 16 '11 at 22:45
  • You only live once - but if you drink Schlitz, once is enough. :-) – Kit Z. Fox May 17 '11 at 0:30

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