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What Does “Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen” Mean?

Meaning Of “Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen

The phrase “Too many cooks in the kitchen” means many people are working on one thing together. Usually, this results in feelings getting hurt, things not going to plan, and a negative effect on the result.

In conversational English, this phrase is usually used to describe events after they happened, especially when explaining why something didn’t work out well. 

Examples Using “Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen” 

  • When making soup with my friends, they all have a different idea of how it should be done. In the end, the soup tasted awful because everyone was trying to lead. Quite literally, there were too many cooks in the kitchen.
  • At the staff meeting, all teachers had different opinions on the new set of employee rules. In the end, the meeting ran over by at least an hour. It felt like a situation with too many cooks in the kitchen. 
  • I felt like too many cooks in the kitchen while working on a class group project. Everyone had unique opinions on what should’ve been done, and in the end, we never actually finished it. 

Where Did “Too Many Cooks In The Kitchen” Originate?

To start, this phrase may sound very familiar to you, even if you haven’t specifically heard it before. That is most likely because this phrase has many different forms that mean the same thing. For instance, one common form of this saying is “too many cooks can spoil the broth.”

In reality, this common phrase is pretty literal and most likely came from the restaurant world. There are usually multiple cooks in the same kitchen in these businesses, which doesn’t necessarily pose a problem. Issues, however, can arise when multiple chefs are working on the same dish, especially when they have differing opinions. 

For example, if every chef had a different opinion on how a dish should be made, they would all oversee it, or nothing would get done. Either way, the dish wouldn’t turn out well with multiple chefs working on it. 

This phrase has such deep roots that it can even be tracked down to the 18th century! You could say that people throughout history have even had issues working with each other. 

Related: Check out our “common expressions” section for more articles like this one!

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By Ryan Fisher

Ryan holds degrees from Pacific Lutheran University and specializes in proofreading, editing, and content writing with an emphasis on business communication.

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