Better late than never

Discover the meaning of "Better late than never" and see how it brings fun to learning English phrases with Studycat.


Have you heard the phrase “Better Late Than Never” and thought about how it could apply to your tiny tots? Well, pull out your (imaginary) watches, because it’s time to unwrap an idiom that teaches a life lesson just in the nick of time!

What does “Better late than never” mean?

Hey, we’re not handing out late slips here! When someone says “Better Late Than Never,” they mean it’s better to do something late than never do it at all. It’s a thumbs-up for taking action, even if the clock’s ticked a bit further than you’d like.

So if your child turns in their homework a day late but still gets it done, you could say, “Well, better late than never!”

Where does “Better late than never” come from?

Guess what? The saying “Better late than never” isn’t just something your parents might say when you finally clean your room after a week. It’s a wise old phrase with a pretty cool backstory!

Way back in 1386, a fellow named Geoffrey Chaucer — think of him as a superstar writer of the Middle Ages — first popped this phrase into one of his stories called “The Canterbury Tales”​​. But hold on, it gets even older! The Romans, who lived even way before Chaucer, had a similar saying in Latin, which means exactly the same thing.

Imagine that, a saying as old as the Roman Empire still being used today! Language can be amazing thing.

How to use “Better late than never”

Time to put this idiom to work! Here are some example sentences your child can play around with:

  • “I forgot to say ‘thank you’ yesterday, but I said it today. Better late than never!"
  • "I was the last to finish the race, but hey, better late than never!"
  • "Sorry, I’m late for dinner, Mom. But better late than never, right?”

Other timely ways to say “Don’t delay”

Looking for more options? You got it!

  • The early bird catches the worm - This one’s for when being on time or early is beneficial!
  • No time like the present - Why put off what you can do now?
  • Procrastination is the thief of time - A bit more complex but teaches the downside of being late.

Fun ways to practice “Better late than never”

How about a timing challenge? Have a mini-obstacle course and it doesn’t matter who finishes when. The point is to complete it. You can cheer them on with, “Better late than never!”

Or, during storytime, you can identify characters who make late but important contributions and label their actions as “better late than never.”

And there you go!

The idiom “Better Late Than Never” is a timely addition to your child’s English vocabulary and life skills. It’s a fun lesson in making the most out of every tick-tock moment!