Idiom : What is the idiom for leaving the one thing because you see a new one? In my language (Burmese), we say leaving a grilled fish because we saw a raw one, which means that people want the things that they don't have, even though the one they currently have is better. I couldn't find a similar idiom in English.

  • Is there an implied stupidity involved? Most people would consider a grilled fish a better deal than a raw one (of comparable size etc) if they were hungry, but an ichthyologist would probably opt for the one nearer the living state. Sep 27, 2016 at 10:52
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    The meaning of this statement similar to that people wants the things that they don't have even though the one they currently have is better which perfectly matches for @alwayslearning's first proverb
    – Chit Khine
    Sep 27, 2016 at 10:54
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    This sounds like a perfect question for Mr Shiny and New!
    – AndyT
    Sep 27, 2016 at 12:00
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    I suggest tightening up the phrasing of this question a bit. When I read the question, I thought it was about having a short attention (Squirrel! ..........) span. I didn't get a full understanding until reading the answer and your comments.
    – cobaltduck
    Sep 27, 2016 at 15:12
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    "Ooh, squirrel!"
    – Ghotir
    Sep 27, 2016 at 16:25

4 Answers 4


The following come close.

From Wiktionary:

Proverb the grass is always greener on the other side

Other circumstances seem more desirable than one's own but in reality are often not.

Proverb a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

It is preferable to have a small but certain advantage than a mere potential of a greater one.

Proverb Better an egg today than a hen tomorrow.

It is better to have a sure thing now than a possibility of more later.

  • The first one looks very close to what I wanted
    – Chit Khine
    Sep 27, 2016 at 10:32
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    @alwayslearning I used to work with a person who kept making life changes. He thought "the grass was always greener." He ended up concluding, "The grass is brown everywhere." :-) Sep 27, 2016 at 13:28
  • @RichardKayser, that's a good one. Maybe the matrix we are in just causes an illusion of grass where there's nothing. :) Sep 27, 2016 at 13:31
  • Perhaps. :-) Have a good day. Sep 27, 2016 at 13:35
  • Hm; I know there is another, it's right on the edge of my mind but I can't think of it. These ones don't seem quite on point, though. "Grass is always greener" doesn't imply the leaving itself, it just refers to thinking that something else looks better, not necessarily doing anything about it. "Bird in hand" isn't really related to leaving anything or thinking other things are better, it's just about strategic advantages. "Better an egg today" isn't really related to leaving anything either, it's also just related to a strategic advantage. None of these are really quite right; @ChitKhine
    – Jason C
    Sep 27, 2016 at 15:38

Similar to @ELMOJO's answer ...

How about chasing the next shiny (new) object?

If you google chasing the next shiny object, you'll get many hits, most concerning Shiny Object Syndrome.

From canwilldone, for example:

Shiny Object Syndrome comes in various forms, but my variety comes in the form of dropping what I am doing now, then chasing after something new and eventually dropping that too. It leads to a feeling of doing a whole lot of starting of a whole lot of different things, but never seemingly completing anything.

This seems to fit the OP's question, taken to an extreme.


The most obvious English idiom meaning that people want the things they don't have, even though what they currently have is better, is "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Why would that not fill your bill?


Sounds a little like the Shiny Penny Syndrome.

  • 2
    Welcome to ELU.SE. This site strives to provide objective answers. Take the tour or have a look at the help center to find out more about good answers. It would be good if you could include a citation rather than just providing a link.
    – Helmar
    Sep 27, 2016 at 17:24

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