a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Calque of Chinese 千里之行,始於足下 (qiānlǐ zhī xíng, shǐyú zú xià), quoted by the Chinese philosopher Laozi in the Tao Te Ching. This quote is sometimes erroneously attributed to Laozi's contemporary, Confucius, who is the founder of Confucianism, or to the Japanese.

Proverb[edit]

a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

  1. Even the longest and most difficult ventures have a starting point.
    • 2020, Malcolm Turnbull, The Reluctant Republic, Hardie Grant Publishing (→ISBN):
      It has often been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. We have made many steps in our journey towards the republic, and perhaps are closer to our destination than we imagine.
    • 1989, Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Free Press (→ISBN):
      A thousand-mile journey begins with the first step” and can only be taken one step at a time. If you don't let a teacher know at what level you are—by asking a question, or revealing your ignorance—you will not learn or grow.
    • 1981, Robert Leland Youngs, Forest products research needs and prospects (thinking globally, acting locally), Forest Products Laboratory, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture:
      The problems are great--but this means that the opportunities are also great. In this situation it is well to remember the ancient wise words of Lao Tzu "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step."

Synonyms[edit]

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