He has given the hen for the egg.

Is this a valid English proverb or idiom? If not, what is the relevant one?

  • No, it's not an idiomatic proverb. The meaning is clear enough, but I can't think of an existing proverb which expresses it succinctly. – Dan Bron Sep 16 '17 at 11:31
  • I don't know it, but it feels that with a bit of work it could be rather good. It put's me in mind of the man who's concerned because his friend believes himself to be a chicken. And when asked why he doesn't direct said friend to someone who could help, replies that while he knows he should, he needs the eggs (badly remembered intro to Annie Hall). This is not the same but has potential to offer a similar insight into eccentricity. – Dan Sep 16 '17 at 19:14
  • Perhaps along the lines of (but more elegantly phrased) - bartering a chicken to get an egg. – Dan Sep 16 '17 at 19:18
  • 2
    @user75512 - you need to make clearer the sense of the phrase as you understand it. As it stands it is far from clear! – Dan Sep 16 '17 at 19:20

This is not a proverb I've ever heard of. You could try

He has killed the goose that laid the golden eggs.

Wikipedia says that this refers to one of Aesop's fables and is

"an idiom used of an unprofitable action motivated by greed."

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