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What does “Patience Young Grasshopper” mean? Origin & Usage

You have probably heard the phrase ‘patience young grasshopper’ or ‘patience grasshopper’ but you probably don’t know where it comes from.

This phrase, which is often said to the young, is thought to have originated from the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, but actually it has much older origins.

Read on to learn more about this sentence, what it means and where it comes from.

Where is the quote ‘Patience young grasshopper’ from? Origin Of “Patience Grasshopper”

Although ‘patience young grasshopper’ is said in 1984’s The Karate Kid, it’s not where the commonly said phrase originates from.

The phrase actually comes from a television show called Kung Fu. Lead character Kwai Chang Caine (played by David Carradine) often thought back to his earlier years training as a Shaolin Monk in Asia. During this training, his blind Chinese master would say “Patience Young Grasshopper” to him.

The sentence was first uttered when the ignorant Caine asked his blind master how he could function without eyesight. Po asked Caine to close his eyes and describe what he could hear. After he described the water flowing and birds chirping nearby, Caine asked if he could not hear his own heartbeat or the grasshopper at his feet. This is where the endearing name grasshopper originates.

Master Po used to call his student Grasshopper, signifying patience as an important and ideal skill for a martial artist. It was mostly used as a term of affection, letting Kwai know that he is much less experienced than Master Po.

What does “Patience Young Grasshopper” mean?

In the source material, ‘grasshopper’ is used by a wise elder to describe a naive, inexperienced, or unskilled person.

Generally, grasshoppers are constantly jumping from one point to the next, without very much thought, acting in an impulsive and irrational way. The master may be slower, but he is wiser and understands what is important to him because he is more aware of his surroundings. The younger student is still jumping about, not thinking about his next move, which is very negative in martial arts.

On the other hand, Patience is considered one of the most powerful martial arts practices and a key skill to learn in life. In fact, patience, in martial arts, is considered an antidote to anger. Being angry with someone can stop you from focusing on your true desires and can lead to you losing what you are fighting for. Thus, patience is a discipline that needs to be learnt, especially by young people who tend to prefer knee-jerk reactions.

So, all together, In this phrase “Patience Young Grasshopper”, Master Po is essentially telling Caine to have patience and pay attention to the smaller things around him.

‘Patience Young Grasshopper’ Usage in Other Media, Quotes, Memes etc

What does "Patience Young Grasshopper" mean? Origin & Usage

This phrase has also appeared in a few other TV shows over the years. Most notably, “patience, young grasshopper”, was also featured in the 1985 movie The Karate Kid, which includes Mr. Miyagi teaching Daniel Larusso about karate.

In nearly all circumstances, the phrase is used when an elder is trying to teach a younger person or student something. It has also evolved in the phrase “the grasshopper becomes the master.”

“Patience you must have, my young Padawan,” is another version of this phrase which is commonly misattributed to Yoda in the Star Wars franchise. It’s not actually said by any character, but it could easily fit into the themes of the franchise.

Now you will see ‘patience young grasshopper’ used in lots of different ways, from training your dog to planting flowers in your garden!

You will also see lots of guides and articles with this phrase in the title or in the content.

Yes, patience young grasshopper and its meaning has evolved as language often does. One such usage of this phrase is commonly seen among the younger generation in relation to IT and tech. It’s used when a given problem is testing someone to breaking point. This is because lots of people in tech are young and eager, but often miss key points at the start of their careers because they are trying to jump ahead too early.

What Does It Mean If Someone Says ‘Patience Young Grasshopper’ To You?

So if someone says ‘patience young grasshopper’ to you, is it good or bad? Well, context is everything.

As said earlier, ‘Patience young grasshopper’ is often said to someone who is rushing through something and not thinking straight. Like the source material, it is usually said by someone who is more respected, older or in a position of power. Sometimes it’s said in an accent, mimicking a character from one of the source materials.

If you are a young apprentice in training, someone above you in the work chain may call you a grasshopper. It’s probably in affection, but you may see it as patronising and see it as an elder trying to remind you that they know more than you.

The true meaning of this phrase is simple yet very deep.

Amelia Harvey is a critic and a beauty/lifestyle writer who lives in Bournemouth, U.K. She got her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of Winchester and went on to work as a content writer at various top publications like Glowsly, Indique, What Culture, ORE, Unkempt, and Flush The Fashion. She is also a Rotten Tomatoes accredited film critic (author at Frame Rated) and also runs Daily Actress, a Tumblr with over 100,000 followers. Amelia loves books and has an incredible knowledge of pop culture, fashion, and celebrity.