Neither a borrower nor a lender be


      • discourage someone
        Advise against engaging in a particular activity or task, cautioning that it will not result in any positive outcome or benefit

    Examples of Neither a borrower nor a lender be

    • Sarah had been struggling with her finances for months and was considering taking out a loan to cover her expenses. However, remembering the age-old advice of "Neither a borrower nor a lender be," she decided to cut back on unnecessary expenses instead.

      This idiom encourages people to avoid borrowing money or lending it out as both situations can cause difficulties. By not borrowing or lending, Sarah hoped to avoid the risks and responsibility that come with these financial arrangements.

    • In the work place, there was a significant division between the employees who lent money to their co-workers and those who refused to do so. Some believed that lending helped to foster positive relationships, while others adhered to the saying "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" and preferred to keep their finances separate.

      This example highlights how the idiom can be applied in different contexts, such as in professional relationships. By avoiding lending, some workers believed that they could avoid the potential risk of not being repaid or being seen as a source of credit.

    • Rachel's brother had always been generous with his money and would often lend her small sums to help her out. Yet, Rachel knew the risks associated with borrowing and tried to follow the advice of "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" by only accepting loans from her brother in emergencies.

      This example demonstrates how the idiom can still be followed while recognizing the importance of certain relationships. By only borrowing from her brother in dire situations, Rachel aimed to maintain the balance of their relationship and show her appreciation for his generosity.

    • After years of lending his friends money and never being repaid, Tom realized that he had been living by the words "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" incorrectly. By giving away his money, Tom had become a lender without realizing it. He started to re-examine the advice, realizing that it did not necessarily mean that one should avoid lending money altogether but rather should be cautious about who they lend to.

      This example shows how the idiom can be interpreted differently over time. By recognizing that the advice was more about being cautious than refraining completely, Tom was able to approach lending in a more measured way, only lending to those he trusts.

    • Sam had always followed the wise advice of his grandfather, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." So, he avoided taking any loans and also hesitated to lend anyone money, except for a few close friends.

      This idiom suggests that it's best to avoid borrowing or lending if possible. It's a proverbial cautionary message against engaging in financial obligations beyond one's means. Sam's decision to abide by this advice helps him avoid the potential risk and stress that come with financial burdens.

    • Carl's business was struggling, and he didn't want to resort to borrowing, following the maxim, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." Instead, he focused on finding creative ways to increase cash flow and cut expenses, eventually turning his company around without the need for a loan.

      In this example, Carl's decision to rely on his own resources rather than take out a loan reflects the same advice given by the idiom. By being resourceful and self-sufficient, Carl was able to avoid assuming any debts, which could have led to financial difficulties down the road.

    • Sarah's friend needed money urgently, but Sarah was wary, as she remembered the advice, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be." She paused to think things over, weighing the friend's circumstances and her own finances before deciding to lend the money.

      Here, Sarah's hesitation to lend was because of the idiom's warning against becoming a lender. Nevertheless, she understood her friend's situation and ultimately chose to help, realizing that there are exceptions to every rule, depending on the specific circumstances.


    The idiom "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" is used to caution someone against borrowing or lending money. It emphasizes the idea of being self-reliant and not getting involved in financial transactions that could potentially lead to complications or strained relationships. The intention is to discourage individuals from taking on unnecessary financial burdens or risking their own resources by lending to others.

    This idiom is often used in a figurative sense to advise against becoming entangled in any kind of mutual obligation or dependency, not just limited to financial matters. It highlights the importance of maintaining independence and avoiding potential conflicts that could arise from borrowing or lending.

    Origin of "Neither a borrower nor a lender be"

    The idiom "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" originates from William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet," specifically from a piece of advice given by Polonius to his son, Laertes. In Act 1, Scene 3, Polonius advises, "Neither a borrower, nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend." The origin of the idiom is rooted in the idea of avoiding financial entanglements and preserving relationships. The advice is timeless and continues to be relevant in modern contexts, emphasizing the importance of financial prudence and maintaining healthy relationships.