one swallow does not a summer make

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Alternative forms[edit]


An allusion to the return of migrating swallows at the start of the summer season.

Calque of Ancient Greek μία χελιδὼν ἔαρ οὐ ποιεῖ (mía khelidṑn éar ou poieî), a remark found in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (1098a18: “one swallow does not a summer make, nor one fine day; similarly one day or brief time of happiness does not make a person entirely happy”), itself inspired by the fable The Young Man and the Swallow by Aesop.

The unusual English word order (in use from circa 1920)[1] may be influenced by the line “Stone walls do not a prison make,” from To Althea, from Prison by Richard Lovelace (1642).


one swallow does not a summer make

  1. One instance of an event (such as the arrival of a single bird) does not necessarily indicate a trend.
    • 1886, Louisa May Alcott, chapter 9, in Jo's Boys:
      [T]hough one swallow does not make a summer, one engagement is apt to make several, and her boys were, most of them, at the inflammable age when a spark ignites the flame[.]
    • 1921 April 4, “Smile a While”, in The Day[1], retrieved 29 November 2011, page 6:
      One swallow does not a summer make, nor one onion a spring garden.
    • 1969 September 19, Bob Johnson, “Sports: September Madness”, in Spokane Daily Chronicle[2], page 15:
      One swallow does not a summer make and one football game doesn't make a season.
    • 2001 June 24, Susan Tifft, “The Philippines: Now the Hard Part”, in Time[3], archived from the original on 12 August 2009:
      Added one Western diplomat: "Aquino's success undoubtedly weakens the Communists' appeal to the so-called mass base. But one swallow does not a summer make."


See also[edit]


  1. ^ does not a summer make at Google Ngram Viewer