AE 452 – Expression: Look Before You Leap

Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you how to use the expression LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP like a native speaker.

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AE 452 – Expression: Look Before You Leap

G’day, you mob! What is going on? And welcome to this episode of Aussie English. It’s been a pretty good week. I have been chilling out a bit at home, working on the website. You guys may have noticed that as of yesterday, well, it’s going to be Sunday when this comes out, today’s Thursday when I’m recording there, so yesterday was Wednesday. As of Wednesday, I have brought in the membership for a website. So, for anyone who may have missed the boat, not actually caught up with this message, the membership that has come through for the podcast website is just a cheap five dollar a month subscription, although, you can save money if you save up for six months or a year at a time, and this is to get a little bit of money coming in from the podcast website so that I can pay for transcription. So, I’m running out of sort of important time for making all these resources, I can’t do everything, and I need to hire someone else to transcribe these episodes, and in order to do so, I need the episodes to be making some kind of income. So, that is why I’ve decided to charge a minimum of five dollars per month. Again, you can save money if you get six months or a year memberships to the website, and this money is going to be used for transcription of every episode that I now put up on the podcast. That is the aim. Okay? So, you’re going to be able to read everything. You’ll be able to download everything, the transcript, the MP3, and yeah, that’s the whole aim here, guys.

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Anyway, guys. Today’s expression is a “look before you leap”. This was a really good one that came from Kel in the private Facebook group for the Classroom. As usual, we voted on all these different expressions and Kel won this one. So, “look before you leap”.

But before we leap into that, before we get into that, we’ll go through today’s Aussie joke. So, today’s Aussie joke is, and it’s another one that involves kangaroos. Today’s Aussie joke is: What do you call a talking kangaroo? So, what do you call a kangaroo that can talk? “Unbe-leap-able”. Do you get it? Woooo! “Unbe-leap-able”. So, the pun here, guys, is obviously with the words “unbelievable”, as in incredible. That’s amazing. A talking kangaroo? Unbelievable! And the word “leap”, because kangaroos leap or hop or jump. Okay? So, they’ve put the word “leap” in side of the word “unbelievable”, “unbe-leap-able”. What a pun. Okay. That’s a massive dad joke. I hope you enjoyed it.

Anyway, as I said, okay, today’s expression is a “look before you leap”. As usual, we’ll go through and define the different words in this expression. We’ll go through the expression definition itself, the origin of the expression, some examples, and then listen and repeat exercise, and then go through a few news articles that I found this week. Something different here at the end. Okay?

So, the words in this expression, “to look”, “to look”. I’m sure you guys know what “to look” means. It is to direct your gaze in a specific direction. To take your eyes, to point them in a specific direction, and examine something. Look at something. “To look”. And in this case, it is to examine something. So, it may not necessarily be literally use your eyes to look at something. It may be more the idea of just having a look, as in examining something, see if something’s safe, see if something’s okay. I look in the fridge for food. You know, I am looking with my eyes, but it’s also that idea of searching. Okay? Examining. If someone knocks on the door, you might look to see who it is. It’s… it’s using your eyes, but it’s also examining, it’s also finding information and searching. Okay?

The other word “before”, “before”. This is during the period of time preceding another event or period of time. In the past prior to an event or time. So, I brekky before I lunch. I walked the dog before I went to work. I studied before my exam.

And the last word here is “to leap”, or the last two words, “to leap”. This is a verb that just means to jump, okay? To leap, to jump. It means to jump, to spring, a long way, to a great height, or with great force. So, many animals are said to leap. A frog leaps. It could leap off the river bank into the river. If a gazelle was trying to evade capture by a lion or a cheetah in Africa, it might leap into the air. So, it’s jumping vigorously to show how strong it is and that it will be hard to catch so that hopefully the lion and the cheetah goes for a weaker gazelle.

Alright, let’s go through the definition of the expression “to look before you leap”. So, if someone tells you to “look before you leap”, they’re trying to say that you shouldn’t act without first considering the possible consequences or the possible dangers of that decision. So, it could be that, literally, you are about to leap off something or you’re about to leap over something, and the advice here is make sure that you look where you’re about to land, you’re going to leap to… say, over a fence, make sure you look to see what you’re going to land on so that you don’t suddenly see that there’s something bad there during that leap when it’s too late to jump backwards, when it’s too late and there are severe consequences or dangers. So, to check things are clear in front of you before making a decision from which you can’t go back. “Look before you leap”. Okay?

The origin of this expression. This was interesting. So, it’s a proverb that was first recorded in John Heyward’s “A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue”, and this dated back to 1546. So, that’s on the way to 470 years old almost. 470 years. Pretty crazy. And so, I thought I would read out the part from this book that this was used in, and it’s in Middle English. So, this is not modern English, it’s Middle English, so my pronunciation might be off, but yeah, definitely check out the transcript if you want to see how things were spelt back then in English, ’cause it’s quite different.

And though they seeme wives for you never so fit,
Yet let not harmfull haste so far out run your wit:
But that ye harke to heare all the whole summe
That may please or displease you in time to cumme.
Thus by these lessons ye may learne good cheape
In wedding and all things to looke ere ye leaped

So, I guess, the basic premise here, guys, is that he’s giving someone advice when trying to find a wife, and he’s trying to say, “Make sure that you have thoroughly investigated this woman. Make sure that you find out she is of sound mind, that she is, you know, a good person. Look before you leap.”. Okay? So, don’t rush into that decision.

So, let’s go through three examples of how I would use the expression “to look before you leap” in real life, okay?

Example number one. Imagine that you’re hanging out with some mates. You’re hiking out in the sticks, out in the bush. You know, you’re in some farmland or some forest in Australia. We usually refer to the bush that’s like far away from the city as “the sticks”, “out in the sticks”, ’cause the trees are sticking up like sticks. “Out in the sticks”. So, imagine you’re out hiking, you come to a fence, you want to climb over it’s pretty big, but your mates are a bit nervous. Maybe they got cold feet and they don’t want to go first. So, you put your hand up for it, you say, “I’ll do it. I’ll climb over. It’ll be fine.”. You climb up the fence, you get to the top, and you leap off the top, and land straight into some cow pats, into some cow poo, some manure. Okay? “A cow pat” is that flat circular cow poo that hardens on farmland. So, you tend to see them quite a bit in Australia. So, you’ve landed literally in the shit. Okay? So, your shoes are ruined and your mates are laughing at your predicament. They’re making fun of you. They might yell over the fence, “I thought they said you should always look before you leap.”. So, that might be some sound advice that they give you. “Look before you leap”, because in this case you climbed over the fence, leapt over, and landed in some cow shit.

Number two. So, you get into a new hobby, you fall in love with this hobby, you become obsessed with it, and maybe it’s a really exy hobby. So, it’s a very dear hobby. It’s really, really expensive. Exy. So, maybe it’s something like fishing or boating or four-wheel driving or skiing or snowboarding. The kind of hobbies where you can’t really do it unless you spend a lot of money either buying the equipment or renting the equipment. So, as a result, you really rush into things, because you’re so passionate about it, you’re so into it, and you decide you’re going to get all kitted out, you’re going to get all the equipment that you need to do this hobby, and instead of taking things slowly, and say, you know, renting some gear or buying some second-hand gear, you lash out thousands of dollars, you spend thousands of dollars, on all the new gear required. You know, if it was for driving, maybe you bought a car, you’ve raised the suspension, you’ve bought a fridge to go in the car, you know, all this related paraphernalia, pieces and parts and things you need in order to do this hobby. So, after doing this, you didn’t really investigate the prices, you didn’t investigate where you were going to buy them from, and it turns out that the equipment’s really dodgy. Maybe you get a car that’s broken or busted or it’s cactus, it’s… it needs to be repaired, it’s not working very well. So, you’ve wasted or you’ve lost a lot of money. Your mates might bag you, they might make fun of you for rushing into things, and say, “You should have looked before you leaped. You should have looked before you leaped. You should have investigated things more thoroughly before you just spent all this money and leapt into this decision.”. Okay?

Example number three. So, you’ve gotten into university and you have decided that you want to learn a foreign language. So, you’ve been accepted. The university said, “Yes, we’ve accepted you, but now you have to decide what language you want to study.”. Imagine you don’t have any real preference. You just know, “I want to be fluent in a language by the end of university.”. Maybe you’ve got a few different choices of languages that you could study. Maybe you’ve got languages like German or Indonesian or Chinese. If you sort of rush things and you decide that maybe you’ll go with Chinese, because you really like say, Chinese movies. Maybe you’re a big fan of Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee. And so, you decide, “Yep. Chinese is the language I’m going to learn.”. But only later, you find out just how hard Chinese is, whether it’s Cantonese or Mandarin or Honkien, these languages, as as an English speaker, are incredibly difficult, and they’re much, much, much more difficult to learn than say, German or Indonesian.

And for all of the Chinese speakers learning English, guys, I understand your pain. I know how different the languages are. I did Chinese for three years at high school and it was incredibly difficult. So, massive respect for all of you guys who speak Chinese and are learning English.

So, yeah, you’ve decided to do Chinese, but you could have chosen German and Indonesian, and then only later do you find out, “Oh my God! The grammar is harder. They use tones in this language. They don’t have a writing system like English. It’s character-based.”. So, you find out how hard it is and you want to go back but you can’t. It’s too late. So, people might say to you, “Well, you should have looked before you leapt. You didn’t look before you leapt, so this is what happens. You didn’t think about the consequences, the results of this decision. You rushed into it. You should have looked before you leapt.”.

Alright, guys. So, by now I hope you understand the expression “to look before you leap”, or the proverb, “to look before you leap”. And remember this is that you shouldn’t act before considering the possible consequences or danger. So, don’t rush into something before understanding what could happen.

So, as usual, let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise, guys. This is your chance to practice your pronunciation. So, listen and repeat after me. Let’s go.


Look before

Look before you

Look before you leap x 5

I should’ve looked before I leapt

You should’ve looked before you leapt

He should’ve looked before he leapt

She should’ve looked before she leapt

We should’ve looked before we leapt

They should’ve looked before they leapt

It should’ve looked before it leapt


Great job, guys. Remember, if you want to get more in-depth information regarding pronunciation and connected speech, intonation, all of that sort of stuff, if you want to take this exercise to the next level, make sure that you sign up for the Aussie English Classroom at and it’s just one dollar for your first month, and you’ll get all of the videos, all of the exercises, the quizzes, the bonus content for this episode and all of the previous episodes when you sign up. So, this is the best way for you to improve your English as fast as possible.

So, this week, instead of going through an Aussie Fact, I thought I would mention three different news articles that I had read this week. So, these different news stories that I had read on different websites, and the links for each of these will be in the transcript if you would like to go and read them.

So, the very first one here is about a humped back whale that was seen off Sydney, I think it was off Bondi Beach, and it was tangled in some ropes. So, this was seen a few days ago and this whale was in trouble. It wasn’t able to swim properly and it had this netting or these ropes wrapped around its body. And so, they had tried to get close to the whale and cut it free, but they didn’t manage to do so completely on the first day, and the next day they’d set up all of these searching parties to go out and look for the whale to try and completely free it, but unfortunately, it turned out that the sea conditions became incredibly severe so obviously there was a lot of swell, maybe there was a storm or rain, and it became very difficult and they couldn’t find this whale. However, they were hoping that as a result of having loosened the ropes the day before and cutting some of it free, they were hoping that this whale had actually escaped and just swam off. So, that was story number one. A really interesting one.

The next story was an interesting one from ABC, and this was talking about the Australian accent and how this originated. So, you guys may or may not know that Australia was colonised by the British in the late 1700s, and the people that came to Australia initially were from all over Britain. So, they actually had all kinds of different accents. They weren’t just, you know, from one area, say, London or from Glasgow in Scotland. And so, the accent, or the accents, in Australia at that time, it wasn’t homogenous, it wasn’t just one single accent like it is in at least many places, many districts, today. And the cool thing about this is that the Australian accent evolved as a result of this, right? So, it’s kind of like you have a paint tin and you have poured all these different colors of paint into that tin, as you mix this tin more and more and more it eventually turns into one color, and this color is going to be unique. Right? And so, that’s what happened in Australia. We had all of these immigrants, these are convicts, soldiers, there were a whole bunch of people who came over here from all different walks of life, many different places, with many different dialects, but as they had children, the children started to speak the same as one another. So, even though they would have had parents who spoke with different accents, the children, as a result of wanting to fit in with one another, get along, homogenised their accents. So, the accent of Australia, and of any other place in the world, at least that was colonised, places like New Zealand, America, and Canada, a lot of the time the children are the ones who actually created the accent. So, their parents had all kinds of different accents, and then the children, or the following generations, eventually all kind of settled on a common accent. So, I found that really cool that the children of convicts and migrants and soldiers were the ones who actually designed or created, whether they knew it or not, the Australian accent.

The very last story here that I wanted to share with you guys was this crazy story about some Egyptian antiquities being uncovered during a Sydney house clean-up, and these were donated to a university. So, it turns out that this lady donated all of these Egyptian antiquities. So, all of these old objects from Egypt, I think, about 1000 years B.C. They were donated to a museum in Australia. So, these were actually taken from Egypt in, I think, the First World War by the grandfather of this woman who donated these, and he had gone over there and bought them as artifacts during the First World War. And so, it was crazy that a little house in Australia had things like a mummified cat and some bronze Roman coins, some scarab beetles, some small amulets, all of these things from Egypt, you know, first millennium B.C., in this Australian house. And it turned out that these were all authentic when they were donated and tested.

So, I hope you enjoy this episode, guys. I hope you enjoy the way that I talk about three different news stories there at the end instead of a and Aussie fact this week. Just thought I would try something a little bit different.

Don’t forget if you want access to the transcripts and the MP3s for the website that you can download them if you sign up to be a member, guys. That is on the website. Just go to and click on “Sign Up”. So, it’s only five dollars a month or you can get a six month or yearly membership, guys, and this is going to help me transcribe these episodes for you, for everyone who wants to read and listen to their podcast and learn English even faster.

Anyway, guys, thank you so much for joining me. I hope you have an amazing week and I’ll see you later. Catch ya!

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