Rome wasn't built in a day

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"Rome wasn't built in a day" is an adage attesting to the need for time to create great things. It is the usual English translation of a medieval French phrase, Rome ne fu[t] pas faite toute en un jour, from the collection Li Proverbe au Vilain, published around 1190.[1] The modern French form is «Rome ne s'est pas faite en un jour». Here is how it may be used in a conversation: "You cannot expect me to finish a project of this scale in 24 hours. Rome wasn't built in a day".

The expression, (as "Rome was not built in one day") is given in English in John Heywood's A Dialogue Conteinyng the Nomber in Effect of all the Prouerbes in the Englishe Tongue (c. 1538),[2] while Queen Elizabeth I referred to the idea in Latin in an address at Cambridge in 1563.[3] The present perfect and oratio recta version of the Latin saying—the version one would use for a stand-alone quotation—would be Roma uno die non est condita.

The phrase was used in the title of a 1964 song Sam Cooke[4][5] also covered by British singer Anne Shelton in 1962.[6][7]


  1. ^ "Li proverbe au vilain, die Sprichwörter des gemeinen Mannes : Altfranzösische Dichtung nach den bisher bekannten Handschriften". 2010-07-21. Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  2. ^ Heywood, John; Sharman, Julian (1874). "The Proverbs of John Heywood: Being the "Proverbes" of that Author Printed ... - John Heywood - Google Books". Retrieved 2018-02-20.
  3. ^ Nichols, John (1823). The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth: Among which are Interspersed Other Solemnities, Public Expenditures, and Remarkable Events During the Reign of that Illustrious Princess. J. Nichols.
  4. ^ "45cat - Sam Cooke - Rome Wasn't Built In A Day / Blowin' In The Wind - Victor - Japan - SS-1726".
  5. ^ Rome (Wasn't Built In A Day) on YouTube
  6. ^ "45cat - Anne Shelton - Rome (Wasn't Built In A Day) / I Understand - Philips - UK - 326530 BF".
  7. ^ Anne Shelton: Rome Wasn't Built In A Day on YouTube