“It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Good” – Meaning & Origin

The phrases and proverbs we know and live by today exist because of quotes that were popularized back in the old days. However, have we taken the time to understand what these known adages mean? Like, what does ‘it’s better to be lucky than good’ mean exactly? Let’s see!

‘It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Good’ – Meaning

The phrase ‘it’s better to be lucky than good’ means that skills or being good at something can only get you as far if you aren’t lucky enough to succeed. It follows the idea that success is achieved by one’s luck more than one’s skill.

it's better to be lucky than good meaning origin

The phrase follows the idea that we live in an unfair world, where skill alone can’t guarantee success. Despite being skilled at something, luck plays a role in how far one’s achievement can go.

Let’s take a look at people in the entertainment industry, for example. In terms of looking at their skills alone objectively, some of the most famous music artists we know now are not necessarily the best or most skilled at lyricality, vocal tone, and other technical parts of music.

However, because they were lucky enough to look good and be popular, or were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, they were able to gain fame and succeed in their career.

That’s happening while probably someone who is objectively more skilled than them is still struggling to earn pennies and make their name known in the field of music. In that sense, luck (and privilege) played a bigger role than skill in terms of the artists’ success. Though, of course, this does not mean it applies to all.

While not all may agree with this phrase, this is the most common interpretation and implication for which other speakers and writers use the phrase in. Whether you agree or not, the phrase implies that sometimes, because we live in an unfair world, luck plays a much bigger role than skills do when it comes to our success and endeavors.

‘It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Good’ – Origin

While there are citations of the phrase ‘lucky than good’ as far as the 1920s, ‘it’s better to be lucky than good’ is attributed by most to Lefty Gomez, a popular American baseball player who played for the New York Yankees in the 1930s.

The phrase, and other variations of saying it, go as far back as 1927, when ‘it is better to be born lucky than good’ was mentioned in The Aeroplane, Volume 33 from Temple Press Publishing.

The phrase ‘I’d rather be lucky than good’ was also mentioned in The New Yorker Volume 23, Part 4 in 1947.

Most sites and sources, however, attribute the phrase to Vernon Louis ‘Lefty’ Gomez, a left-pitcher American Baseball player who played in the Major League Baseball in the 1930s. Lefty Gomez said, ‘I’d rather be lucky than good.’ Other known people like American stock car racing driver Mark Martin and columnist Donald Luskin have also mentioned or referenced the phrase over time.

Other Variations of ‘It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Good’

As time evolved, different variations of the phrase also evolved and emerged. While the variations essentially mean the same, ‘good’ is just changed with other more specific qualities like ‘rich’ or ‘smart,’ thus saying ‘it’s better to be lucky than rich’ or ‘it’s better to be lucky than smart.’

It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Rich

‘It’s better to be lucky than rich’ implies that having wealth is something that may continuously change while luck is something innate. Even if a person is rich, they could still turn bankrupt and lose that wealth. But if a person is lucky, wealth always finds them, or in a way, they will always get what they want because chance is on their side.

It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Smart

On the other hand, ‘it’s better to be lucky than smart’ is a phrase, often a quote from Pippin, a 1972 musical. The phrase simply implies that if one is lucky, they can acquire smartness or knowledge over time, or they could even succeed without much of it. But if a person is smart, they can never acquire luck, and their smartness does not necessarily guarantee them to succeed.

‘It’s Better To Be Lucky Than Good’ – Synonyms

‘It’s better to be lucky than good’ is a quote that does not have direct synonyms. However, below are some phrases that mean close.

  • blessed by chance
  • luck over skill
  • luck in success
  • chances over skill
  • game of chance, not skill