let sleeping dogs lie

let sleeping dogs lie

Meaning:

  • its best to leave a situation as it is if disturbing it might cause trouble
  • do not instigate trouble by disturbing a situation
  • to leave things as they are in order to avoid disagreement
  • its best not to talk of bad situations if people have forgotten about them

Example:

  1. As Eliza was in good spirits that morning, Andy decided not to bring up the argument they had last night. It was best to let sleeping dogs lie.
  2. Since my manager did not ask me anything about me coming late that day, I did not speak to him about it – it is best to let sleeping dogs lie.
  3. Its not that the two parties have finally agreed over the issue, its just that they have let sleeping dogs lie and things continue as they are.
  4. We know that we would never reach an agreement over this matter, so its better to let sleeping dogs lie and not discuss it anymore.
  5. Further investigations into that matter would surely bring to light a lot of controversial decisions, so past governments have just let sleeping dogs lie.
  6. I wanted to tell her what I thought, but then I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

Origin:
This phrase has been in use since the 1300s and has reference to waking up sleeping watchdogs, who could be fierce.

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1 Comment

AuthorDavie writes on 11th November 2017

These examples are very contrived. Not one of them sounds natural. Usually this idiom, like so many, are used as comment by a second speaker on the first speaker’s situation. Or as a summary or justification of what you’ve just said. Notice:

“A: Should I talk to John about Claire being out with that other guy on Friday?
B: It’s entirely up to you, Tony, but if you ask me, it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie.”

In your example,

“I wanted to tell her what I thought, but then I decided to let sleeping dogs lie.”,

the idiom has been shoehorned in. Who would say that? What about this:

“I wanted to tell her what I thought, but then I decided not to. I mean, it’s better to let sleeping dogs lie, right?”

Is that not more natural?

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