What Does Better Safe Than Sorry Mean?

Better Safe Than Sorry Meaning

Definition: Be cautious so that you do not make a mistake you will later regret.

To be better safe than sorry is to be cautious or prepared so that you do not later make a mistake.

People who are better safe than sorry arrange and organize ahead of time so that they do not have to face negative consequences in the future. This may mean they are physically safe or that they are safe from bad events.

For example, if someone heavily prepares for a presentation at work, he will not be sorry if he gets asked a difficult question because he will be prepared to answer it.

Origin of Better Safe Than Sorry

Better to be safe than sorryThe phrase better safe than sorry has been attributed to two different authors. It was first used in the texts Rory O’More and Murder at the Hunting Club.

There are also many variations of this phrase, including,

  • better be safe than sorry
  • you better be safe, or you’ll be sorry
  • better sensible than sorry

In fact, the phrase better sensible than sorry was used first, though it is not commonly used today.

Examples of Better Safe Than Sorry

Better be safe than sorryPeople say better safe than sorry in order to spur others to make sensible choices.

For example, someone might say better safe than sorry when buckling the seatbelt in a car, which will prevent him from potentially being sorry if he were to get in a car accident.

This phrase can also describe preventing negative outcomes unrelated to physical safety.

For example, someone might want to leave his keys in the car while running back into the house to grab an item he forgot, but he knows that there is a small chance the car could get stolen if the keys are left inside with no one else around. He might choose to be safe rather than sorry and turn off the car to take the keys inside with him.

More Examples

  • Boaters [will be] better safe than sorry [when new laws are passed]” –Houston Chronicle


The phrase better safe than sorry describes why taking precautions now is better than making mistakes later.