make hay while the sun shines

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Hay harvest can be spoiled by wet weather. It is important that farmers seize the opportunity of dry weather for haymaking tasks (cutting, drying, gathering). Especially in medieval times, when forecasting the weather several days in advance was more difficult, it was all the more vital. Attested since 1546, originally a Tudor expression, and used figuratively since 1673.[1]


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make hay while the sun shines (third-person singular simple present makes hay while the sun shines, present participle making hay while the sun shines, simple past and past participle made hay while the sun shone)

  1. (literal, agriculture) To make hay during favourable (dry) weather.
  2. (idiomatic) To act while an opportunity exists; to take action while a situation is favorable.
    • 2023 June 28, Ben Jones, “Are we getting rid of our (still useful) rolling stock too early?”, in RAIL, number 986, page 28:
      Until the mid-2010s, the ROSCOs 'made hay while the sun shone', taking advantage of growing passenger demand and expanding services to find homes for their rolling assets - in some cases, well beyond their expected design lives.

Usage notes[edit]

In the imperative form, this verb is used as a proverb.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gary Martin (1997–), “Make hay while the sun shines”, in The Phrase Finder, retrieved 26 February 2017.
  • Gregory Y. Titelman, Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings, 1996, →ISBN, p. 225.