Don’t ‘cry over spilled milk’!

Lesson Overview

The English idiom ‘(to) cry over spilled milk’ is used when someone is sad or upset about something that has happened in the past and can’t be changed. Usually, is is a small problem.

This idiom is often used to give advice by saying “it’s no use crying over spilled milk”. It means that there is no reason to get so upset about small problems (like spilled milk). Just forget about it and try not to do it again!

Here’s an example:

Laura:           I knew we should have left earlier, Pete! We’ve missed the game!

Pete:              I know, it’s my fault. I thought we’d have enough time. I’m so annoyed.

Laura:          Well, there’s no use crying over spilled milk. At least we can watch the second half.

Pete:             That’s true. And look, Australia are winning!

(Laura and Pete have missed half of the football match and there is nothing they can do to change that. Instead of being angry or upset, they are happy they can watch some of the game.)

Remember: Idioms are English phrases that have a different meaning to the individual words in the phrase. If you hear this idiom in an English conversation, it doesn’t mean that a bottle of milk has been spilled on the floor!


When was the last time you cried over spilled milk?


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