Early Bird Special: Definition, Meaning, and Origin

Last Updated on
June 25, 2023

The idiom "early bird special" refers to a discounted price offered for goods or services that are purchased earlier than usual or outside of peak hours. This term often relates to deals at restaurants, events, or sales that incentivize consumers to patronize establishments during off-peak times.

In short:

"Early bird special" refers to a deal or discount offered for services or goods bought earlier than usual or during non-peak hours.

What Does "Early Bird Special" Mean?

"Early bird special" is a promotional tactic that involves offering discounts or incentives to consumers who make purchases during non-peak or early hours. This phrase can apply to various sectors, such as dining, travel, retail, or events, where businesses seek to spread out customer demand and optimize resources.

Let's delve into its key implications and usage:

  • The term often refers to dining discounts offered by restaurants to customers who dine earlier in the evening, usually before the peak dinner rush.
  • In the context of events or travel, "early bird special" could refer to discounted tickets or rates for those who book well in advance.
  • It's a common marketing strategy used by businesses to incentivize customer behavior and optimize their operations.

Where Does "Early Bird Special" Come From?

The term "early bird special" likely originated from the idiom "the early bird catches the worm," which emphasizes the value of starting early or acting promptly. This adage was later adapted into the realm of business and marketing, creating the "early bird special." However, it's challenging to pinpoint a precise origin or first usage for this term, as it emerged organically over time in various business contexts.

Example of Use

"Money slipping through your fingers? Get a grip on your cash flow with Early Bird Special."

- PC Magazine, May 29, 1990

10 Examples of "Early Bird Special" in Sentences

Here are some examples of the idiom in use:

  • I'm glad to hear that the café downtown is offering an early bird special for breakfast.
  • The concert promoters are offering an early bird special for those who buy their tickets in advance.
  • The gym's early bird special offers a significant discount for those willing to work out before 7 am.
  • The online store offered an early bird special for holiday shoppers who started their buying in November.
  • Seize the moment and take advantage of the early bird special for the concert tickets.
  • Check out the online store at your convenience to avail yourself of the early bird special on our new collection.
  • The restaurant's early bird special is popular among seniors who prefer to dine earlier in the evening.
  • You may inquire about the early bird special for our professional development workshops next month.
  • To boost sales during slow periods, the salon introduced an early bird special for morning appointments.
  • Book your hotel room tout de suite to enjoy the early bird special for our upcoming seminar.

Examples of "Early Bird Special" in Pop Culture

The phrase "early bird special" is widely recognized in popular culture, usually in relation to promotional offers and deals.

Let's explore some instances:

  • In the book "The Last Lap: Sheldon Brodsky's Insightful Guide to the Joys of Retirement," the title of the fifth chapter is The Early Bird Special.
  • A quote from the 2018 book "The Serpent Secret" by Sayantani DasGupta: "'With the early-bird special? Early bird, get it?' 'Hilarious, I get it,' I agreed. 'The early bird catches the worm, the whole thing.'"

Other/Different Ways to Say "Early Bird Special"

Here are some alternative expressions with a similar meaning to "early bird special":

  • Advance purchase discount
  • Off-peak deal
  • Early booking offer
  • Pre-rush hour discount
  • Early patronage discount

10 Frequently Asked Questions About "Early Bird Special":

  • What does "early bird special" mean?

"Early bird special" refers to a promotional offer or discount provided to customers who make purchases during non-peak hours or well in advance.

  • How can I use "early bird special" in a sentence?

One way to use "early bird special" in a sentence might be, "To encourage attendance at their morning classes, the yoga studio offers an early bird special."

  • Where does the idiom "early bird special" come from?

The phrase likely developed from the idiom "the early bird catches the worm," emphasizing the value of promptness, and was later adapted in business contexts for promotional offers and discounts.

  • Is "early bird special" used globally?

Yes, "early bird special" is a common term used in various countries and industries to describe promotional discounts offered for early purchases or off-peak patronage.

  • Why do businesses offer "early bird specials"?

Businesses offer "early bird specials" to spread out customer demand, incentivize off-peak patronage, and improve operational efficiency.

  • Can "early bird special" apply to online purchases?

Yes, online retailers often offer "early bird specials" for customers who make purchases or bookings well in advance.

  • Is the "early bird special" only for the elderly or retired?

No, while "early bird specials" are often associated with senior discounts at restaurants, the term can apply to any customer who takes advantage of off-peak or advance purchase discounts.

  • Does "early bird special" apply to all industries?

While traditionally associated with restaurants and events, "early bird special" has broadened to encompass various industries like retail, tourism, and services that offer advance booking or off-peak discounts.

  • Can "early bird special" be a permanent offer?

Yes, some businesses have "early bird specials" as a constant feature of their pricing strategy to incentivize early or off-peak patronage.

  • Can "early bird special" be a limited-time offer?

Indeed, "early bird special" can also be a limited-time promotional offer to boost sales or bookings during a particular period.

Final Thoughts About "Early Bird Special"

The term "early bird special" denotes a promotional discount offered to customers who take action ahead of others or during off-peak hours. It incentivizes early patronage and can help businesses manage customer flow and improve operational efficiency.

Here's a quick recap:

  • The phrase implies that customers can benefit from acting early or during non-busy hours.
  • Businesses use this strategy to attract customers during off-peak hours or for advance bookings.
  • The term is widely used across different industries and countries.

While it originated from the restaurant industry, the term is now commonly used across various sectors, demonstrating the global appreciation for the early bird who, indeed, catches the worm - or in this case, a special deal!

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