‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’ – meaning, origin, and explanation

Introduction: Human beings make their every effort to get that is essential for life. Even small necessities of life push us to work hard.

The major inventions and discoveries are all the result necessities of human life and the desire of human to make the world a better place.

Meaning: ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ is an old proverb. It means that necessity compels man to exercise his power of invention.

It further means that:

necessity ignites the passion for work, and to invent new things that are beneficial for human life,
necessity encourages people to get to action, and
human beings struggle hard to attain something only when they have wants.
When the need for something becomes essential for survival, human-mind finds a way of getting it.

Origin: The English proverb has been in use since petty long time. The original author of the proverb could not be ascertained with accuracy. In common parlance, this proverb is attributed to Plato, the Great Greek Philosopher.

The idea behind the proverb was being extensively used in several Latin and English works centuries before the exact phrase came to picture.

The Latin version, “Mater artium necessitas” meaning “necessity is the mother of invention” appeared in 1519 in a book titled “Vulgaria” authored by William Horma. In the same year, in 1519, a similar phrase “Need taught him wit,” appeared in English language as well.

Thereafter, another similar phrase “Necessitie, the inuentour of all goodnesse” appeared in 1545 in the works of Roger Ascham.

The exact phrase “Necessity is the mother of invention” appeared in 1658 in the works of Richard Franck. (Source: Wikipedia)

Brief Explanation: In primitive age men had no house to live in, no clothing to protect their body against cold or heat. The extreme needs for shelter, clothing and food compelled human-beings to find ways to make homes, clothes and produce crops.

These primitive men had no weapons to fight against ferocious wild animals. But they had intelligence and the force of will. The proverb goes – ‘Where there’s will, there’s way’. Thus, the wheel of civilization is moving on and on.

Men have invented fire and agriculture to satisfy their need. At first, the hunter invented the spear or the bow and arrow. The farmer invented the plough or the hoe. There must be means to move things about. So, man tamed the ox or the horse.

They invented the boat on water and the wheel on the land. They invented alphabets to write down their thoughts. In modern times there been tremendous progress of technology. Man has invented aero-planes in order to fly.

The necessity to save human-beings from ailments led to the invention of surgical equipment and modern medicines. The inventions of life-giving medicines are the result of the desire to fight against deadly diseases. The need to life is at the center of creation of these medicines.

The need to talk to friends far away contributed to the invention of the telephone, the wireless phones and the satellite communication system. Further, the need to always be on touch with other people gave way to the invention of mobile-phones and internet.

He has made the cinema and then the television for enjoyment and relaxation. The computer is the most wonderful invention of modern man. It has freed man from mental labor. Thus, human-being is going on in course of invention wherever and whenever he feels a need or necessity.

Conclusion: Necessity creates an urge in human mind to make efforts to invent something new. It is, therefore, rightly said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

You might also like
Leave A Reply