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April 21, 2024

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β€œAll covet, all lose”, an English proverb that encapsulates a timeless truth, serves as a reminder of the consequences of excessive desire and greed. This succinct phrase carries profound wisdom, cautioning individuals against the pitfalls of excessive longing and highlighting the inevitable losses that can arise from such behavior.

Unraveling the Meaning

At its core, the proverb suggests that when everyone desires the same thing, the outcome can often lead to disappointment, failure, or even the complete loss of the coveted object. In other words, the pursuit of a common goal can create intense competition, thereby diluting the chances of any one person or group successfully attaining it.

Imagine a scenario where multiple people are competing for a single job opening. Each candidate covets the position, but only one can secure it. As they vie against one another, their focus might shift from presenting their best selves to undermining their competition. In the end, while everyone covets the job, only one will succeed, and the others will lose.

Examples in Conversation

The proverb β€œAll covet, all lose” can find relevance in various conversations, offering valuable insights into both personal and societal dynamics:

  1. Real Estate Rush: In a discussion about a hot real estate market, one might say, β€œThe property prices are skyrocketing because everyone wants to buy here. It’s a classic case of β€˜all covet, all lose’ – with so many buyers, only a few will actually manage to secure a property, and the rest will be left disappointed.”
  2. Scholarship Competition: During a conversation about scholarship applications, someone could remark, β€œThe competition for that prestigious scholarship is fierce. It’s a prime example of β€˜all covet, all lose.’ The more applicants there are, the harder it becomes for any one applicant to stand out.”
  3. Fashion Trends: When discussing the latest fashion trends, a friend might comment, β€œThis new designer bag is so popular that everyone wants to get their hands on it. But you know what they say – β€˜all covet, all lose.’ The demand is so high that the exclusivity and allure of owning it might diminish for those who manage to buy it.”

Origin and Evolution

The origin of the proverb β€œAll covet, all lose” is not definitively known, but its essence has echoed through various cultures and epochs. The idea that excessive desire can lead to collective disappointment can be traced back to ancient fables and moral stories that caution against greed and selfishness. As societies evolved, this wisdom found its way into idiomatic expressions like the English proverb.

In a world driven by ambition and aspiration, the adage remains relevant. It’s a reminder that while ambition can be a powerful motivator, unchecked desire can lead to negative outcomes. By acknowledging the truth within this proverb, individuals can strive for their goals with a balance between ambition and ethical consideration, avoiding the trap of self-centered competition that can ultimately result in mutual loss.


The English proverb β€œAll covet, all lose” encapsulates a universal truth about the consequences of unchecked desire and excessive competition. Its timeless wisdom can be applied to various aspects of life, from career pursuits to social trends. By recognizing the potential pitfalls of collective longing, individuals can strive for their ambitions while fostering a spirit of cooperation and ethical consideration. Ultimately, this proverb serves as a guiding light, reminding us that the path to success is best navigated with prudence and an understanding of the broader context.


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