It is like an old woman throwing a pot of water out looking at the water in the clouds

The above is an Indian proverb meaning some innocent people foolishly forego what is preserved for future use when they find that something more useful useful is likely to be available in the near future which may not be available (leaving something at hand in anticipation of something which is likely to happen and of use in the future).

I would like to know a similar idiom in English.

(I think it is not a duplicate as I searched for similar proberbs but could not find out. However, if anybody finds out and leave a comment, I will delete the post instantly)

  • You could say this is "throwing good money after bad", which means "squandering what you have while trying to improve a bad situation." Nov 5, 2019 at 18:01
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    There is an English saying that has some affinity with this proverb: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." Unfortunately, it would not serve the purpose of your proverb, which is a way of passing witty comment on someone's foolish act or proposed act of over-ambition.
    – Tuffy
    Nov 5, 2019 at 18:09
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    Are they wasting their money, gambling foolishly, or not appreciating what they have? The explanation doesn't give a clear idea of the meaning. Nov 6, 2019 at 1:49
  • This has a somewhat different emphasis/focus, but waste not, want not.
    – Lawrence
    Nov 6, 2019 at 4:28
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    Aesop's fable of the dog and its reflection is similar; it has some proverbial summaries although the most common are those already mentioned ("a bird in the hand...", "good money after bad"). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dog_and_Its_Reflection
    – Stuart F
    Nov 6, 2019 at 13:50

2 Answers 2


An Aesop's fable covers much the same idea. Here is how the fable of "The Dog & His Reflection" is rendered in The Æsop for Children (1919):

A Dog, to whom the butcher had thrown a bone, was hurrying home with his prize as fast as he could go. As he crossed a narrow footbridge, he happened to look down and saw himself reflected in the quiet water as if in a mirror. But the greedy Dog thought he saw a rel Dog carrying a bone much bigger than his own.

If he had stopped to think he would have known better. But instead of thinking, he dropped his bone and sprang at the Dog in the river, only to find himself swimming for dear life to reach the shore. At last he managed to scramble out, and as he stood sadly thinking about the good bone he had lost, he realized what a stupid Dog he had been.

The moral given in the book is "It is very foolish to be greedy," but a more apt moral might be "A bone in the mouth is worth much more than an imagined bone in the river." You could refer to this cautionary tale by saying, "It's like the fable of the dog and his reflection."

  • Roger L'Estrange tells the same fable more succinctly, but with a very lengthy "reflexion" on the moral "All covet, all lose," in his book Fables, of Æsop and Other Eminent Mythologists: With Morals and Reflexions (1669), where the fable is titled "A Dog and a Shadow."
    – Sven Yargs
    Nov 6, 2019 at 20:24

The nearest ones I could think of are:

Throwing caution to the wind

Or perhaps even better:

Betting the bank

Depending on the feeling of the sentence I would use one or the other, but I think "Bet the bank" has the closest meaning is the sense of squandering riches.

You could even use both together:

It's like throwing caution to the wind and betting the bank.

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