Q:

What is "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride"?

A:

Quick Answer

"If wishes were horses, beggars would ride" is a 16th century English nursery rhyme. It is also a proverb, whose meaning is that simply wishing for something is not sufficient to make it happen; action is required as well.

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Full Answer

The proverb is similar to one recorded in "Remaines of a Greater Worke Concerning Britaine" by William Camden (1551-1623): "If wishes were thrushes beggars would eat."

The first occurrence of the rhyme as it is known today was in a collection of English nursery rhymes by James Orchard Halliwell, published in the 1840s. However, its final line was slightly different, ending with "if ifs and ands were pots and pans, there'd surely be dishes to do," instead of "if ifs and ands were pots and pans, the tinker would never work."

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