Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (Origin)

by Craig Shrives

What Is the Origin of the Saying "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie"?

The term "let sleeping dogs lie" means to avoid interfering in a situation that is currently stable.
Let Sleeping Dogs Lie (Origin)

Examples of Use:

  • I'm not taking them to court. It's best to let sleeping dogs lie.
  • Just ignore Simon. Let sleeping dogs lie!
  • Let's not talk about last night. We should let sleeping dogs lie and move on.
This idiom usually relates to an old argument. It is advice not to rekindle the argument, if the situation is currently not causing you any issues. The saying originates from the idea that dogs are unpredictable when disturbed, so it is best to let them sleep.

"Let sleeping dogs lie" is an old saying, probably originating from the 13th century. One of the first printed versions appears in English author Geoffrey Chaucer's epic poem "Troilus and Criseyde" (circa 1380):
  • "It is nought good a slepyng hound to wake."
"Let sleeping dogs lie" is a figurative version of the following sayings:
  • Leave well alone.
  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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See Also

What are idioms? What is figurative language? A list of common grammar errors A list of easily confused words A list of sayings and proverbs

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