What Does Too Much of a Good Thing Mean?

Too Much of a Good Thing Meaning

Definition: Even something good can become bad if it is excessive.

Origin of Too Much of a Good Thing

This proverb may have existed since the 1500s, as the celebration of moderation dates from the 16th century.

As with many famous English phrases, playwright William Shakespeare was the first to use it in its current form. In the play As You Like It, circa 1600, we find this use,

  • Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?

Examples of Too Much of a Good Thing

shakespeare too much of a good thing quoteIn the dialogue below, two friends are talking about a contest they won.

Ezekiel: You know, I was so happy when we won that lifetime supply of free hamburgers from our favorite restaurant, but I have a confession to make.

Maggie: Are you getting bored with eating hamburgers so often?

Ezekiel: Yes! How did you know?

Maggie: I feel the same way. I love their hamburgers, and I never thought I’d say this, but a lifetime supply may be too much of a good thing.

Ezekiel: Maybe we should stop eating there so often before we get so sick of it that we can’t go there at all.

Maggie: Yeah, that’s a good idea.

meaning of too much of a good thingIn this example, two friends are upset because someone keeps playing the same song over and over on the jukebox.

Tyrion: You know I’m a huge fan of this singer, right?

Mila: Yes. Why?

Tyrion: I would normally never complain about this, but I’m pretty sure this is the fifth or sixth time her song has played over the speakers. Are you playing a prank on me? Are you forcing us to listen to this again and again?

Mila: No, it’s not me. I swear!

Tyrion: I believe you. It’s a great song, but this is too much of a good thing.

More Examples

This excerpt is about sports. When a team wins a game very narrowly, it is very exciting. However, the author believes that too much drama can be exhausting.

Ottawa is the most extreme example. Eight of the Senators’ first 10 victories in the playoffs were decided by a single goal, with all but one of those going to overtime.

Sometimes, you can get too much of a good thing.

But we’ll take that over the NBA playoffs, where the average postseason margin was nearly 13 points. –USA Today

This excerpt uses the expression to refer to problems with real estate prices in the state of California.

  • Equally confusing is a hunch that California’s housing “challenge” — and part of it may very well be a high price for paradise — may simply be the result of too much of a good thing. California’s housing has been expensive for a long time. The rare times it’s been cheap — amid broad economic slowdowns — few folks would (or could financially) grab their slice of the real estate pie. –OC Register

Summary

The phrase too much of a good thing means that the quality of something is relative to its quantity. Even excellent things can seem terrible if they are used too frequently or exist in an overabundance.