What does the idiom "let sleeping dogs lie" mean?

Although the meanings of the words in them do not make any sense when examined one by one, the word groups that are shaped according to the cultural roots of the language and that make sense as a whole are called idioms. let sleeping dogs lie meaning, in what situations is it used?

Meaning of "let sleeping dogs lie"


The idiom ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ is an expression used to advise that it is better to leave a difficult problem alone, without stirring it up, as it might cause more trouble than it is worth. It is a warning against making unnecessary changes or decisions, as it could have potentially dangerous consequences.


The phrase 'let sleeping dogs lie' is believed to have originated in Britain during the 1600s, though the exact origin is unknown. The phrase is believed to be derived from the proverb 'let sleeping wolves lie', which dates back to the 12th century. The phrase was used to refer to a wild animal and the fact that it was wise to leave it alone due to the danger it posed.


This idiom is generally used when referring to a sensitive or potentially volatile situation, or when someone is trying to fix a problem without understanding the possible consequences. It can also be used to refer to avoiding potential conflict with someone or something, or to warn against making unnecessary changes or decisions. It is also sometimes used humorously to describe someone who is trying to meddle in a situation that does not concern them.

Example Sentences

  • I know you want to help, but this is a difficult situation and it might be best to just let sleeping dogs lie.
  • I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't have said anything, but it's better to let sleeping dogs lie and not make things worse.
  • I think it's best to not get involved - let sleeping dogs lie.
  • John is always trying to stir things up - he should learn to let sleeping dogs lie.

The meanings of the words in the "let sleeping dogs lie" idiom

Idioms with similar meanings in different languages

"Barking up the wrong tree" is an English idiom that means to pursue a mistaken or misguided course of action. In German, the similar idiom is "Auf dem Holzweg sein," which translates to "To be on the wrong track." This idiom emphasizes the idea that when you are pursuing the wrong course of action, you are not going to achieve your desired outcome.


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