It was Steve Jobs's ending comment in the Stanford Commencement in 2005, and Jobs mentioned:

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

What does this phrase mean? I understand this may also seem philosophical, but when studying English, often we not only study the words, but we often study what the meaning is, and what a phrase or writing may mean or imply.

7 Answers 7


Stay Hungry.

Never be satisfied, and always push yourself.

Stay Foolish.

Do (or be willing to keep trying) the things people say cannot be done.


Stay hungry can be interpreted as "stay eager", and stay foolish can be interpreted as "be ready to try new things" or "be ready to step out of your comfort zone".


This phrase purposefully uses negative adjectives in a positive way. This is what gives this phrase its "punch." Taking a word, phrase, or situation and contrasting how it is normally used versus how it is used in a given case is a common rhetorical device.

Hungry here means "wanting something more", as in "He was hungry for a raise." Jobs is putting forward that being dissatisfied with what you have and wanting more is a good thing.

Likewise, someone who is foolish acts without thinking and takes unnecessary risks. Jobs is saying that you SHOULD take stupid risks and throw caution to the wind.

Taken together, Jobs is simply saying: "You only live once, so make it count and go after what you want no matter what."

  • Nice analysis, I like how you decyphered the punch! But I thought Jobs was Buddhist, no? Living multiple times and all that.. Apr 1, 2014 at 8:06
  • Hah! Even if he did believe in reincarnation, it's just an expression easily replaced with carpe diem or YOLO or whatever you like.
    – Jeremy
    Apr 1, 2014 at 22:38

This quote is the farewell message placed on the back cover of the 1974 edition of The Whole Earth Catalog. Steve Jobs was a fan of the magazine. In his words:

On the back of the cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: 'Stay hungry. Stay foolish.'

The phrase is an encouragement to keep a state of learning and open state of mind, perhaps like a child that isn't spoiled by a rigid mindset.


If you're "hungry" and "foolish," you are willing to learn. So Jobs was telling people always be willing to learn new things.


Stay hungry = Always be curious to learn more and achieve more.

Stay foolish = Dare to make unconventional decision as Steve Jobs did when he quit his college to persue his quest, as Gandhi did when he adopted satyagraha against oppression, as Buffet did early in his career when he made some well calculated investments in low priced high potential companies. In this case some people might call you foolish but Providence will prove that it pays to stay foolish. Here I humbly beg to differ from an interpretation of stay foolish (that we should be ready to learn more) because interpretation of stay hungry naturally includes this thought.

  • This information was already presented in previous answers.
    – Zairja
    Nov 2, 2012 at 19:18
  • @Zairja Which? // Jul 11, 2021 at 7:49

The opposite of being foolish is being smart. And being smart usually means you know everything. Being foolish is kind of "not knowing everything" and still willing to learn.

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