“many a slip between the cup and the lip”

This rather old fashioned expression means don’t be too sure that your plan is going to work because anything can go wrong at anytime.

* Don’t be too sure that you will have the project done by tomorrow. Remember, there’s many a slip between t . What she forgot was there is many a slip between the cup and the lip.

This is an expression which has been around for several centuries. The story goes that Neptune’s son, Ancaus had a beautiful vineyard which he was extremely proud of. He made the many slaves who took care of it work really hard. Once an overworked slave predicted that his master would not taste the wine produced that year.

When the grapes had been plucked and the wine extracted, Ancaus sent for the slave who had made the prediction. He poured out a cup of wine for himself and asked the slave why his prediction wasn’t coming true. The slave apparently said, “There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip”. As Ancaus lifted the cup to taste the new wine, another slave came running and said that a wild boar had entered the vineyard and was destroying everything. Neptune’s son put the cup of wine down and raced to the vineyard. You can probably guess the rest of the story. Ancaus was killed by the boar. Moral of the story? Drink your wine, before fighting a boar — or should it be “bore”?

S. Upendran, The Hindu- ‘Know Your English’ Series, Apr 08, 2003


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