Birds Of A Feather Flock Together – Proverb Meaning & Origin

Are you puzzled about the English proverb “birds of a feather flock together”? We’ll detail the origin and meaning of this saying so you can confidently use it.

You might have heard the phrase “birds of a feather flock together” and were confused about what it means. This is an old proverb referring to people with similar interests, characters, or personalities who will get on with one another.

The saying is generally attributed to 16th-century writer William Turner. Although Turner did not use this exact wording, he did express the sentiment in his work, The Rescuing of Romish Fox.

Let’s learn more about this proverb and how to use it. You might also be interested in our list of creative sayings.

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together Origin

The book of Ecclesiasticus, which is believed to have been written from 200 to 175 BCE, is the one of earliest sources associated with this proverb. In Sirach 27:9, you’ll find a passage reading: “Birds resort unto their like.

With that said, the phrase is more commonly attributed to William Turner. In this satirical book, The Rescuing of Romish Fox, which was published in 1545, he wrote: “Byrdes of on kynde and color flok and flye allwayes together,” which is closer to the way we say it today.

In 1856, Benjamin Jowett’s translation of Plato’s Republic was released with the quote: “Men of my age flock together; we are birds of a feather, as the old proverb says.” However, the reason this saying isn’t commonly associated with Plato is because it isn’t believed to be a direct translation of the original Greek.

Check out our roundup of books for wisdom for notable titles from history.

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together Meaning

As mentioned earlier, this term describes groups of people who have a lot in common. Although it can be used as a positive or negative description, you might have already noticed it’s typically used to criticize people. For example, when you were in high school, a group of bullies might have been described as “birds of a feather flocking together” by your parents.

Below are some example sentences:

  • My partner and I are both introverts; I guess birds of a feather flock together.
  • Everyone in that friend group is very sporty; birds of a feather flock together, after all.
  • I wouldn’t trust Betty, she’s friends with all the school bullies; birds of a feather flock together.

You might also hear people amend this saying to: “Birds of a feather flock together until the cat comes.” This is a warning about having superficial relationships: while you might have a lot in common with someone, that doesn’t mean they will stick around if you go through a challenging time.

You might hear people insist that this is the full, original adage. As established earlier, this saying did initially only refer to how people who have things in common will gravitate toward one another. The warning against fair-weather friends was added later, and it is unclear where this addition came from.

Either way, if you only want to express how people with common interests are kindred spirits, saying “birds of a feather flock together” is correct.

What Is A Proverb?

Birds of a feather flock together
Proverbs often double as metaphors or idioms

A proverb is a saying that imparts some kind of wisdom or shares a universal truth. These are short phrases that have been used for a long time, but the origins are not always clear.

Examples are:

  • Actions speak louder than words
  • Act in haste, repent at leisure
  • Every cloud has a silver lining

Proverbs often double as metaphors or idioms. Metaphors are figures of speech that compare two seemingly unrelated things, for example:

  • A heart of gold
  • The world is your oyster
  • Fit as a fiddle

An idiom is a phrase that might not make contextual sense (or any sense in some cases) when we look at it literally but has been assigned a meaning, although not necessarily to impart wisdom. For example:

  • Fed up
  • Rubbed up the wrong way
  • Burn the midnight oil
  • The skin of your teeth

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together Synonyms

If you want to avoid relying on this old saying too much, below are some phrases you might find in a thesaurus to express a similar point:

  • They’re like two peas in a pod
  • Great minds think alike
  • You are the company you keep
  • Thick as thieves
  • Bobbsey twins
  • Like attracts like
  • Painted with the same brush

What Is The Opposite Of “Birds Of A Feather Flock Together?

There isn’t a phrase that is a direct opposite of “birds of a feather flock together.” As in, you probably can’t find a saying that also uses birds.

If you wanted to express that different kinds of people can be drawn to each other, you would say “opposites attract.”

Other English Phrases About Birds

You might have already noticed that references to birds are in a lot of English language phrases. Below are the most well-known and what they mean:

  • The early bird gets the worm: People who arrive early or first are more likely to get what they want.
  • Kill two birds with one stone: Complete two tasks or solve two problems with one action.
  • Dead as a dodo: Dead or irrelevant.
  • Wild goose chase: Searching for something that is unattainable or impossible.
  • A little birdy told me: A way to reveal you have information without saying who told you.
  • A homebird: Someone who doesn’t like to travel or socialize.
  • Love birds: An affectionate couple.
  • Sitting ducks: Being in a position where you have nothing to defend yourself with.
  • As the crow flies: A straight line or the shortest route.
  • Free as a bird: Someone with no worries.
  • An ugly duckling: A way to describe someone who has grown into their appearance.
  • Hawkish: A way to compare someone to birds of prey like hawks, to suggest they’re aggressive.
  • Vulture: Someone who takes advantage of others.
  • An albatross around the neck: A burden.

Birds Of A Feather Flock Together: FAQs

Did Lewis Carroll Say “Birds Of A Feather Flock Together?”

While there was a reference to this saying in Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, Lewis Carroll did not coin this phase.

Why Are There So Many English Sayings About Birds?

There is no clear reason why there are so many English phrases about birds. It is believed to be because birds can represent different things. For example, crows or ravens are seen as bad omens, while turkeys are a symbol of prosperity and generosity.


  • Aisling is an Irish journalist and content creator with a BA in Journalism & New Media. She has bylines in OK! Magazine, Metro, The Inquistr, and the Irish Examiner. She loves to read horror and YA. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.