seem like a good idea at the time
Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
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- To have been a foolish impromptu or impulsive past action. Used especially as part of an expression of regret.
2008, March 27, “Thomas Sowell”, in 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”, in 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.
- Almost exclusively in a past tense in its idiomatic use. Some exceptions preserve the past occurrence of the seeming:
- As a frequentative: "It always seems like a good idea at the time."
- Future perfect: "It will have seemed like a good idea at the time."
- Emphatic past with do: "It did seem like a good idea at the time."