Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Meaning of “Beggars Can’t Be Choosers”

The proverb beggars can’t be choosers’ means that if you are a beggar, you do not have a choice. It is mostly used in terms of charity that when a person is getting everything from a donation, he or she must accept what’s been given without demanding. In other words, if a person is requesting or receiving something for free, they do not need to make a choice or ask for the quality and quantity. The phrase is also used to demean or insult someone ungrateful.

Origin of “Beggars Can’t Be Choosers”

This proverb “beggars can’t be choosers” is stated to have been first used in Heywood’s collection of phrases and proverbs published in 1562.

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

The proverb is still used with the same intention but in different words.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers by Lynn Anderson

Beggars can’t be choosers anyhow
Here I am I’m waiting at your feet again
Hoping that a crumb of love might fall
Wishing you’d give all your love to me
But then beggars can’t be choosers after all

Hand me down your hand-me-downs
I don’t care
Old left-over kisses I’m not proud
I’ll take any love you think you can spare
Beggars can’t be choosers anyhow

The singer has used the proverb three times in the song. Each time, the proverb has been used in the same meanings. The writer confesses that he is becoming a beggar and asking his beloved that she should give him a little love. He is saying that he would not be chooser; he would accept whatever she is going to offer him even if that is a left-over of previous love.

Example #2

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers by JT Machinima

You’ll see me raise my flag high for my enemies to witness
Setting up my shield, establishing my defenses
I’m a doctor, got my PhD in ballistics
With my national pride, but this isn’t the Olympics

You gotta grab what you can
You know beggars can’t be choosers
Separate the boys from menthe
And the winners from the losers
Battle royale!

The singer says that although he is a doctor in weapon systems and that he is going to raise his flag, but this is not a competition of games. He means that you need to get what you have before you and then become the winner in this fight. However, he also advises his beloved that “beggars can’t be choosers” because you can get anything as a present. There is no choice. Perhaps he is telling his beloved that she has no choice among the boys, or she will lose them, too.

Example #3

Autoendobiographical: the Book That Never Ends by Brenton Plourde

Sometimes you win and some and sometimes you lose some. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Beggars can’t be choosers. I find myself living these clichés every single day of my life. I fall right in the middle of ‘you win some and you lose some’ and that is ok with me.  It is like when you see sports players being interviewed after losing a game, no matter what the ramification of the game is and they always just shrug their shoulders and say, “We’ll get’em next time.” I do not really beg for stuff or life so I am ‘choosers cannot be beggars’ and well if it is good for the goose, I am sure it is good for the gander.

Here the author uses two different proverbs to explain them. The proverb “beggars cannot be choosers” has been explained in a way that it mixes up with the other proverb. According to the author, one must not be too selective. However, he adds that what is good for one person may not be suitable for the other. The author uses proverbs to avoid being a cliché.

Example #4

Fight Song: A Novel by Joshua Mohr

“How’s this? I’m giving you a free lifetime supply of Mexican lasagna,” she says, “and if you’re a perv, you can have a trial-subscription…”

Beggars can’t be choosers, Bob thinks. Beggars also can’t get enough lasagna, so this is really working out in Coffen’s pathetic favor.

“Do you remember the magic words I told you.” Tilda asks.

The story is about Bob Coffin, a man who is fed up with urban life. Here he is engaged in conversation with Tilda, another character, who offers her free Mexican lasagna. Bob thinks that he has no choice except to take her offer by saying yes. He uses this phrase to show his helplessness, saying, “Beggars can’t be choosers” with emphasis.

Examples in Sentences

Example #1: “At school when you get a present for passing the test, be happy with it. Beggars can’t be choosers, you know.”

Example #2: “Tina and Ryan demanded expensive gifts for their wedding reception. Tina’s father reminded them that beggars must not be choosers. So receiving gifts is like begging.”

Example #3: “Lotty is a very greedy woman. Even if she gets freebies at her local store, she asks for the additional discount. She had to be reminded that beggars can’t be choosers.”

Example #4: “Most beggars in the big cities are very demanding and secretly rich. People are rude to them because beggars can’t be choosers.”

Example #5: “Nathan says that we should be kind and give the option to beggars though beggars can’t be choosers.”