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Funny Responses to “The Early Bird Gets The Worm”: Hilarious Comebacks

The Early Bird Gets The Worm

Michele Stills


Are you tired of hearing that annoying line “the early bird gets the worm” from people who think they’re so clever?

Yeah, yeah, I get it – you’re a go-getter who loves to brag about waking up at the butt crack of dawn.

But just because you’re up before the roosters doesn’t make you a productivity god.

As if getting up early automatically means you achieved something worthwhile! There are night owls out there killing it too, thank you very much.

So next time some smug early riser hits you with that tired old saying, you’ll be armed with some witty comebacks to shut them down. Let’s get into it!

Snarky Responses

“The early worm gets eaten.”

Turn the tables on them! This cheeky reply reminds them that just because they’re up first doesn’t mean they’ll win. The go-getter mentality can quickly turn into one-upmanship if they’re not careful.

Context: Use this for the ultra-competitive early birds in your life who are trying a little too hard to seem accomplished. A harsh truth bomb like this is sure to wipe that proud look off their faces.

Other examples:

  • “But the night owl had fun staying up late.”
  • “The late mouse gets the cheese.”
  • “And the night owl gets the mouse that ate the early bird.”
  • “Yeah, but who cares about worms when you can sleep in?”
  • “The second mouse gets the cheese.”

Confused Responses

“Huh? What worm?”

Play dumb like you have no idea what they’re talking about. This dry, straightforward reply will make them question if “the early bird” thing even makes any sense at all.

Context: Pretty much any time someone uses this over-quoted phrase, you can act completely lost. Make them do the work of explaining the random metaphor they just brought up.

More examples:

  • “Why are we talking about birds and worms?”
  • “I didn’t realize we were discussing poultry today.”
  • “Should I be concerned that you’re so curious about worms?”
  • “I must have missed the part where we started discussing breakfast.”
  • “My bird doesn’t eat worms. Should I be worried?”

Sarcastic Responses

“Oh wow, I’ve never heard that one before!”

Laying the sarcasm on thick can quickly deflate their attempt at pearls of wisdom. Make it clear how unoriginal and eye-roll worthy that saying is.

Context: This is perfect for culture snobs, self-important bosses, or anyone else who thinks they’re being exceptionally clever and profound by referencing a kindergarten-level idiom.

Other witty replies:

  • “What a delightfully novel sentiment!”
  • “How did you come up with something so profoundly enlightening?”
  • “I simply must write that down for posterity.”
  • “You’re like a modern-day Shakespeare with that cutting wordsmithing.”
  • “Thanks for applying your galaxy brain to share that timeless adage.”

Self-Deprecating Responses

“I guess that explains why I never get anything done!”

Don’t let their preaching get you down – turn it into a fun self-drag! Lean into the stereotype of the lazy slacker who struggles with being productive.

Context: If you’re chatting with an energetic go-getter friend or acquaintance, you can laugh off their exuberance with some playful self-deprecation. It’s an easy way to neutralize their judgy vibes.

More examples:

  • “That’s why you’re the CEO and I’m stuck eating ramen noodles.”
  • “I wouldn’t know, given how often I hit the snooze button.”
  • “I’ll be sure to tell that to the pile of laundry I’ve been meaning to do for weeks.”
  • “My lack of ambition is finally explained!”
  • “No wonder I’m so unaccomplished in life. It all makes sense now!”

Replying to a Girl

When an enthusiastic girlfriend, female friend, or other lady in your life pulls out this old chestnut, you have a few options:

First, you can tease her about how she’s being such a “boomer” or “grandma” for using such an antiquated saying. A little light ribbing about being behind the times can be playful and fun if you have that kind of relationship.

Example reply: “Okay, Mrs. Robinson, what’s next? Some groovy slang from the 60s?”

You can also turn it into a flirty comeback about being a total night owl who loves staying up late with her. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

Example: “You know what they say about the nightowls though…we have way more fun after dark.”

If you want to take a sincere approach, compliment her ambition and drive. Then pivot to talking about balance and not overworking herself. Make sure she’s not falling into hustle culture toxicity.

Example: “I admire your work ethic, babe. Just don’t forget to take breaks and actually enjoy the worms every once in a while!”

Replying to a Guy

Some guy friends and boyfriends just can’t resist pulling out this “deep” idiom to sound wordly and wise. A couple ways to handle it:

First, remind them that waking up early doesn’t automatically make them better or more important than anyone else. Check that unhealthy ego!

Example response: “Oh I didn’t realize this was a competition about who’s the most productive. My bad, you must be the ultimate life master then.”

For a more lighthearted jab, you can rib them about still acting like a frat bro always trying to one-up people.

Example: “Bro, are you still trying to race me to the cafeteria for breakfast? We’re not in college anymore.”

If they truly are a hard worker who struggles with work/life balance, use this as an opportunity to have a real discussion about priorities and being present. Overworking leads to burnout.

Example: “I get that you’re ambitious, but make sure you’re actually enjoying your success too. The goal isn’t just to relentlessly collect worms.”

Key Takeaways

Next time anyone lazily trots out “the early bird gets the worm,” you have plenty of amusing comebacks and thoughtful responses to choose from:

1) Remind them that being an early riser doesn’t automatically make them better or more accomplished than anyone else. Hard work looks different for everyone.

2) Don’t glorify hustle culture and burnout. Yes, hard work is important, but balance and rest are crucial too. Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

3) Have some fun with it! These cheesy idioms make for great openings to tease your loved ones and bring more playfulness into your relationships.

You’re More Than Just a Schedule Preference

At the end of the day, what time someone wakes up doesn’t define their entire worth as a person. Night owls and morning larks can both lead fulfilled, successful lives in their own ways.

So next time you hear “the early bird gets the worm,” feel free to laugh it off however you see fit. Just don’t take that old saying too seriously – it doesn’t determine your entire value.

Whether you’re an energetic go-getter up at dawn or a creative night owl doing your best work after dark, what matters is living life in a way that feels meaningful and authentic to you. Chase your own worms, on your own schedule!

Michele Stills

I'm an evidence-based coach helping clients with their communication, leadership skills, anxiety, public speaking and interpersonal relationship skills.

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