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

Idioms are generally defined as groups of words that form a meaningful whole when they come together, even though the words in them do not make sense on their own. They have produced many idioms according to their own cultural characteristics in communities using the English language. What does Let sleeping dogs lie mean? In what situations is Let sleeping dogs lie used?

Meaning of "Let sleeping dogs lie"


The idiom 'let sleeping dogs lie' is an expression that is used to describe the notion of not disturbing a current situation or problem that has been dormant. It means to not bring up or bring attention to a problem that has been forgotten or is not currently being discussed, as it may create more issues or difficulties. This phrase can be used to caution another person against stirring up uncomfortable or volatile issues.


The exact origin of the phrase ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ is unknown, however, the most commonly accepted explanation of its origin dates back to 16th century England. During this time, dogs were used for a variety of purposes, including guarding their owner’s homes. Furthermore, if a dog was asleep, it was likely not to bother anyone and it would be wise to not disturb it. Therefore, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ is thought to have derived from this idea of not disturbing a peaceful situation or one that is not currently being discussed.


The expression 'let sleeping dogs lie' is used most often as a warning or advice to someone to not bring up or disturb a potentially volatile situation. It is used to warn or caution another person or persons against stirring up uncomfortable issues or conflicts that may be in danger of being reopened. It is also used to describe someone’s behaviour of not addressing a particular issue or problem.

Example Sentences

  • It would be best to let sleeping dogs lie and not try to stir it up again.
  • I think it’s best if we just let sleeping dogs lie and move on.
  • We should just let sleeping dogs lie and not get involved in the politics.

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.


No comment has been written about Let sleeping dogs lie yet, you can write the first comment and share your thoughts with our other visitors.
Leave a Reply