Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk

Don’t cry over spilled milk
No use crying over spilt spilled milk

Meaning of Idiom ‘Don’t Cry Over Spilt Milk’

Don’t cry over spilt (or spilled) milk means don’t be upset about something that has happened and cannot be changed, undone, or rectified. 1Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.,2Jarvie, Gordon. Bloomsbury Dictionary of Idioms. London: Bloomsbury, 2009.,3Spears, Richard A. McGraw-Hill’s American Idioms Dictionary. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008.

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It is possible for this idiom to be used in the positive, as in the example ‘I know he’s upset but he’s crying over spilt milk.’ However, it is almost always used as ‘don’t cry over spilt/spilled milk’ or ‘there’s no use crying over spilt milk.’

Examples Of Use

“I’m sorry you didn’t make the team but there’s no use crying over spilt milk. Just practice hard and try again next year.”

“I know nobody likes to get a dent on a brand new car but it’s going to happen sooner or later anyway. No use crying over spilled milk.”

“Don’t cry over spilt milk. Lots of people don’t pass their driving test the first time.”


This idiom alludes to the inability to recover milk once it has been spilled and comes from a very old proverb. It appeared in James Howell’s Paroimiografia as early as 1659. 4Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.

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