What Does Many Hands Make Light Work Mean?

Many Hands Make Light Work Meaning

Definition: Even a difficult task becomes easy if enough people help complete it.

Origin of Many Hands Make Light Work

This English proverb dates all the way back to the 1300s. It initially appeared in a story called Sir Bevis of Hampton and has been included in many collections of proverbs from that point onwards.

For example, John Heywood included this proverb is the book of proverbs in the 1500s.

many hands make light work quote This idiom has a good example of synecdoche, in which the word hands represents not only the hands themselves but also the whole person who is helping with the work. Light, in this expression, means easy.

People often use this idiom to stress the importance of teamwork and cooperation, especially in face of a daunting task.

Examples of Many Hands Make Light Work

Here is an example in which two roommates are discussing a big project.

Mario: I can’t believe that our landlord just kicked us out. And how can he give us only 24 hours notice? That must be illegal.

Axel: Yeah, illegal and impossible! There’s no way we can pack up all our things on such short notice.

Mario: What if we call all our friends and offer them free pizza for their help? They say that many hands make light work.

Axel: That could work. Let’s try it.

many hands make light work BibleIn this example, two college students are discussing the group project they will need to complete for class.

Roger: We have to pick our partners for the group project in class tomorrow.

Noel: I know. It’s going to be very important to pick someone who is reliable and skilled.

Roger: Why? Don’t you feel like you could do the whole project on your own?

Noel: No, it’s over 100 pages. It would be very difficult to do it all by myself. But many hands make light work. If all my partners in my group pitch in, it should be easy!

More Examples

This excerpt is from an article about cleaning up a city.

  • Many hands make light work in San Bernardino. The city seeks volunteers for Saturday’s #FightBlight Cleanup Day, the latest in a string of weekend events dedicated to cleaning San Bernardino of trash and other eyesores. –San Bernardino Sun

The second excerpt is the headline of an article about making pasta.

  • How to make ravioli: many hands make light work –Seattle Times


The phrase many hands make light work is another way to say a job becomes easier as more people help.