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le mieux est l'ennemi du bien

English translation: Leave well alone

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
French term or phrase:le mieux est l'ennemi du bien
English translation:Leave well alone
Entered by: Eleonore Wapler
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16:56 Jan 20, 2009
French to English translations [PRO]
Art/Literary - Idioms / Maxims / Sayings / expression
French term or phrase: le mieux est l'ennemi du bien
-
Eleonore Wapler
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:11
Leave well alone
Explanation:
Hello,

I think this is it. When something is already good, leave it be.

I previously said "perfection is the enemy of good enough"

I hope this helps.
Selected response from:

MatthewLaSon
Local time: 09:11
Grading comment
2 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



Summary of answers provided
5 +7Leave well aloneMatthewLaSon
4 +4let well enough alonexxxPRen
4 +3The better is the enemy of the good
Christoph Verplancke
3 +3better to do something even if it is imperfect than striving for perfection and achieving nothingAlain Pommet
5Great is the enemy of goodNatalie Koshman
3it's a case of good against better
Rachael Renie
3good enough is not good enough
Paul Hirsh
Summary of reference entries provided
writeaway
Let well alonexxxBourth

Discussion entries: 6





  

Answers


45 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5 peer agreement (net): +3
better to do something even if it is imperfect than striving for perfection and achieving nothing


Explanation:
Usually translated as “The perfect is the enemy of the good,” this remark from Voltaire's Dictionnaire Philosophique has been used again and again to express the general notion that striving for perfection can obscure or overcome the need to accept a good, if imperfect, solution that is nearer to fruition. Though the literal French could be taken to mean "The better is the enemy of the good," the sense that it may be better to do the possible than strive for something more (nearly) perfect remains.
http://csanet.org/newsletter/fall08/nlf0803.html

Alain Pommet
Local time: 15:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 4

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Rachael Renie
25 mins
  -> Thanks Rachael

agree  Carol Gullidge: a great improvement on my idea!
46 mins
  -> Thanks Carol

agree  Helen Shiner: When in doubt, stick with Voltaire/I should also say that IMO this a good, sophisticated solution to a nearly impossible task.
57 mins
  -> Thanks Helen
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
it's a case of good against better


Explanation:
or a slightly more quirky approach, playing on good against evil
le bien est le mal - le bien et le mieux

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Note added at 1 hr (2009-01-20 18:10:48 GMT)
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what context are you translating it in exactly ?

Rachael Renie
Local time: 15:11
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Lingua 5B: I like this one too :) You guys are very creative.
16 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +7
Leave well alone


Explanation:
Hello,

I think this is it. When something is already good, leave it be.

I previously said "perfection is the enemy of good enough"

I hope this helps.

MatthewLaSon
Local time: 09:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 30

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  xxxPRen: sorry Matthew - I didn't see you post before I posted mine
8 mins
  -> Thanks. No problem! Don't hide your answer, though, as it's a slight variation (with "enough").

agree  Carol Gullidge: Nice and concise!! :)
8 mins
  -> Thanks Carol! I told you so!!! Have a nice day.

agree  svetlana cosquéric
31 mins
  -> Thanks, svetlanac!

agree  katsy: Personally this is the only expression I have ever used - this is the first time - on this page - I have met"leave well enough alone" (after more decades of existence than I'm prepared to divulge!!)
3 hrs
  -> Thanks, katsy! You're only as old as you feel, my friend.

agree  xxxBourth: The expression I learnt, have always known, and use also.
12 hrs
  -> Thanks, Bourth!

agree  Theodora OB: this is the one
14 hrs
  -> Thanks, Theodora!

agree  RemyUK
18 hrs
  -> Thanks, RemyUK!
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +4
let well enough alone


Explanation:
or... if it ain't broke don't fix it

or

let sleeping dogs lie



--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 3 hrs (2009-01-20 20:34:47 GMT)
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If you need a reference, look under "mieux" in Collins Robert!

xxxPRen
Canada
Local time: 10:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  writeaway: this is the actual expression. leave well alone isn't
1 hr
  -> thanks

agree  B D Finch: Better than the ambiguous "leave well alone", but don't think the sleeping dogs alternative is right.
20 hrs

agree  Michele Fauble
1 day24 mins

agree  Vicky James
1 day39 mins
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
le mieux est l\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'ennemi du bien
Great is the enemy of good


Explanation:
a common inspirational phrase very often found in books and publications dealing with business growth and entrepreneurial undertakings.

Excerpt from article entitled "Entrepreneur's Guide To Startups"
"A lot of entrepreneurs have been told to live by the phrase ‘great is the enemy of good’, meaning that they should settle a little bit in order to move forward."

It is also the title of an entire chapter in a book entitled, "Lucky or Smart? Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life" (http://www.feld.com/wp/archives/2005/02/book-review-lucky-or...
See also: http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:o3pqm0UsCXkJ:warrenward....
AND
http://74.125.47.132/search?q=cache:o3pqm0UsCXkJ:warrenward....



Natalie Koshman
United States
Local time: 09:11
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
neutral  Lingua 5B: i like this one, but cant give you an agree, because i've already given one :). It sounds much more English than the other one ( the better or the perfect )
2 hrs
  -> I understand : - ) Thanks!
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 3/5Answerer confidence 3/5
good enough is not good enough


Explanation:
worth a shot

Paul Hirsh
France
Local time: 15:11
Works in field
Native speaker of: English
PRO pts in category: 4
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4 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
The better is the enemy of the good


Explanation:
Voltaire.

Also: The perfect is the enemy of the good.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 11 days (2009-01-31 22:22:04 GMT) Post-grading
--------------------------------------------------

Allen's Dictionary of English Phrases (Penguin reference library):

"The best is the enemy of the good - people or achievements that are good are made to seem inadequate by those that are even more outstanding. The phrase is attested earlier (18th cent.) in French as le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, and in Italian (quoted by Voltaire) as il meglio e l'inimico del bene. [...]"

Christoph Verplancke
Belgium
Local time: 15:11
Native speaker of: Native in DutchDutch, Native in FlemishFlemish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Anna Semyonova: The best also)
2 mins

agree  Lingua 5B: Brilliant. :) / Sorry Helen, this is an official translation, accepted in the literary world. the only alternative is to put " good" and " better" between quotation marks, and omit the article.
36 mins

agree  Alfredo Vargas
1 hr

neutral  Helen Shiner: Apologies, but 'the better' is just not English./The better of two tables (ie choice of two); the better in the betting shop, but not 'the better' as a translation of 'le mieux'. That should be 'the best'./As in the term 'to get the better of someone'.
1 hr
  -> OED: "8. the better: the superiority or mastery; now chiefly in to get the better of. Also fig. (Cf. BEST 9a.)"? > BEST 9a. does say 'the best'. But checking the literature I have to concede, "the best is the enemy of [...]" is far more frequent. Thanks.
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Reference comments


2 hrs
Reference

Reference information:
Re: Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien
To leave well enough alone.
If it's not broken, don't fix it.
http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=307650

# Voltaire 1694 - 1778
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien
The best is the enemy of the good.
http://www.copywritersworld.co.uk/famous_quotation.htm

PROVERBE
Le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, c'est-à-dire, on peut gâter une bonne chose en voulant la rendre meilleure.
http://littre.reverso.net/dictionnaire-francais/definition/m...

writeaway
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 8
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14 hrs
Reference: Let well alone

Reference information:
I've always heard and said "LEAVE well alone", but this may be a "modern" variation on the original which a/c to the Oxford Book of Proverbs can be traced back to 1570 as "LET well alone", in which " Well is normally considered [here] as a noun ('what is well'), rather than an adverb"

xxxBourth
France
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 76
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