Kill two birds with one stone
Meaning: Accomplish two tasks at once
Originated in: 🇬🇧 United Kingdom
Earliest attestation: The Questions Concerning Liberty, Necessity, and Chance by Dr. John Bramhall (1656)
To kill two birds with one stone means to accomplish two separate goals with one plan or action. Some theoretical examples would be:
- You need to go into town for business, but that enables you to pick up dinner in the area on the way back.
- You get your daughter a cat she’s been wanting, while also using it to eliminate a mouse infestation.
- You fly out to Florida to attend a wedding, but take an extra couple of days off to have a mini vacation.
- You cut down a dead tree threatening your house, and get the firewood you need.
- You bike to work, saving gas while losing weight.
- You go to the mall and get a haircut, buy clothes, get a massage, and buy a new dishwasher all in one trip.
It’s when you do something you need to do and can accomplish a second goal with little extra effort. The objectives coincidentally align. That’s not to say that it couldn’t have been planned—situations rarely work out so well without a little foresight, but it is not noteworthy when the objectives are naturally linked.
The idea is of a man hunting birds with a sling. Usually he would only be able to kill one bird per stone. However, if he were able to line up two birds, he could theoretically kill both with a single stone and save time and ammunition. It is a metaphor for efficiency.