seem like a good idea at the time

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English[edit]

Verb[edit]

seem like a good idea at the time

  1. To have been a foolish impromptu or impulsive past action. Used especially as part of an expression of regret.
    • 2002, Joseph Tragert, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Iraq[1], ISBN 0028643984, page 187:
      File Under "It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" ¶ Why take Kuwait? The main answer, of course, has to do with control of oil resources.
    • 2008 March 27, Thomas Sowell, “Bipartisan primary blues”:
      Do we want the magic words of "universal health care" to end up in a similar tangled mess — as it has already in some other countries — while we end up saying, "it seemed like a good idea at the time"?
    • 2008 June 8, Joanna Weiss, “A zany cartoon debut for an animated pair”:
      "This could be one of those things where we slap our foreheads and say, 'It seemed like a good idea at the time'," he said.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Almost exclusively in a past tense in its idiomatic use. Some exceptions preserve the past occurrence of the seeming:
    1. As a frequentative: "It always seems like a good idea at the time."
    2. Future perfect: "It will have seemed like a good idea at the time."
    3. Emphatic past with do: "It did seem like a good idea at the time."