‘Practice makes perfect’ – Origin, Meaning, Expansion, and Importance

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‘Practice makes perfect’ – Origin, Meaning, Expansion, and Importance

Origin of this proverb.

This is a very common proverb which dates back to the late sixteenth century. It is difficult to say who first coined the proverb as it appeared in several different books of proverbs all at the same time!

However, it is likely that ‘practice makes perfect’ existed in spoken language for several decades or even centuries before it was written down.

Meaning of the proverb.

This proverb ‘practice makes perfect’, means that ‘practicing at something persistently will enable one to get better at that thing.‘ Working hard at any kind of skill is the only way to achieve a high standard at it.

According to this proverb, perfection cannot be achieved instantly. Rather, it is only achieved through putting in a certain amount of time and effort.

‘Practice makes perfect’ is a proverb that is all about the power of habitual action. Getting in to good habits sharpens our mind and means that eventually we can perform certain activities instinctively to a very high standard.

Practice means doing something again and again. If we want to achieve perfection we need to put effort in. An activity, when repeated several times become our habit And, when we continue to practice harder, we achieve the stage when we can perform flawlessly without making any mistake. The word, perfect,  here means something like a task well done.

Thus, ‘practice makes perfect’ expresses the ideas that:

  • Practising a lot enables us to do well.
  • Perfection is achieved by repeating an activity several times.
  • We can achieve the state of flawlessness by working hard at that thing.
  • It is important to put in time and effort if we want to get good at something.

This proverb is a very versatile one. It can be applied to both abstract skills such as mathematics and to more practical skills such as carpentry.


This proverb encourages us to keep on practicing even when we are tired. We can achieve proficiency in any field through regular practice.

Working hard makes us more proficient. Hobbies such as music, painting and more take practice.

Habitual action soon becomes second nature. This is something substantiated by everyday life. The more we practice something, the better we get at it.

Scientific studies and experience have borne out this proverb. One example is the so called 10, 000 hours rule. According to this rule, you can become competent or skilled at something by spending 10,000 hours doing it in a repeated manner. The rule holds for everything from playing guitar to painting.

A little more on the proverb.

This proverb is related to an earlier proverb, ‘use makes mastery’. This means the same thing as ‘practice makes perfect’, however it uses more archaic language. ‘Use’ here means something akin to ‘habit’, whilst ‘mastery’ refers to being totally proficient at something. So, in the medieval times, this was the equivalent of the proverb ‘practice makes perfect’.


The importance of the proverb is highlighted below in points.

1. Encouragement: If we do not achieve such a high standard as we would wish the first time around, this proverb encourages us to keep trying!

2. Appreciating hard work: This is a great proverb to cite when we want to acknowledge how much hard work someone has put into something. Perfection is achieved through hard word. It is rare to get something perfect first time around.

3. Versatility:This proverb is applicable to so many different contexts, from professional sports to playing chess!

4. Accurate: All in all, ‘practice makes perfect’ is a very accurate way of expressing what it takes to succeed in life.

5. A sense of achievement: With its celebration of practice and skill, this proverb encapsulates the sense of achievement that we feel when we have achieved perfection in something. Hence, we can achieve whatever we want – as long as we practice.


‘Practice makes perfect’ is a proverb that can motivate and encourage us when we want to do well at something. In addition, this proverb helps to console us when we do not get something right the first time around – if we put in a little more practice, perfection is just around the corner!


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