beggars can’t be choosers


beggars can’t be choosers


  • those in need shouldn’t expect too much from what they’re given.
  • those who seek help shouldn’t be too demanding or selective.
  • people in dire need shouldn’t be overly selective.
  • those who depend on charity shouldn’t be picky.
  • people who are begging cannot make a choice of what they get.
  • in an advisory tone, this phrase means that things that are bestowed upon request should not be questioned.

Example Sentences

  1. In this village you are only going to get these many options for furniture. Learn to live it because beggars can’t be choosers.
  2. We took the deal at the time because beggars can’t be choosers.
  3. I have not offered you more because beggars can’t be choosers.
  4. Your brother living with us cannot ask for more things to be stocked in his room since beggars can’t be choosers.
  5. You asked for this and now you want me to exchange it? Don’t you know that beggars can’t be choosers?


The idiom originated in Britain and is connected with “don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.” It was first recorded by John Heywood. While the latter phrase was first printed in the 1546 version of “A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue,” the phrase in discussion was only printed in the version that came out in 1562.

Beggers should be no choosers, but yet they will:
Who can bryng a begger from choyse to begge still?

Heywood is believed to have been born in London, England, in 1497. In spite of multiple instances of subjugation, Heywood maintained his Roman Catholic faith. Heywood escaped to Belgium after Elizabeth I became queen in 1564, leaving his possessions in the care of his son-in-law, the poet John Donne. At some point after 1575, he passed away in Mechelen, Belgium.

This was the era when there was no organized state that would help the poor in any manner. This era was characterized by limited social welfare systems, with assistance often provided by local churches, charitable organizations, or individual benefactors. Those in need relied heavily on private charity and informal community support networks rather than formalized government aid. Consequently, poverty relief was often inconsistent and insufficient, leaving many vulnerable individuals without adequate support.

It was implied that when they were being helped or given gifts then the only acceptable thing to do was to be grateful rather than trying to find the value of it or questioning it in any manner since alms or gifts were at the mercy of the people giving them and had no say by the people receiving them. The current version of the phrase is “beggars can’t be choosers”.

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