let sleeping dogs lie

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

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In the early 14th century the French phrase n'esveillez pas lou chien qui dort advised ‘do not wake the sleeping dog’, while Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first to put this notion into print, in Troilus and Criseyde, circa 1380 : ‘it is nought good a slepyng hound to wake’. The present form of the proverb seems to be traceable to Walter Scott's novel Redgauntlet ( 1824 ).

Verb[edit]

let sleeping dogs lie (third-person singular simple present lets sleeping dogs lie, present participle letting sleeping dogs lie, simple past and past participle let sleeping dogs lie)

  1. (idiomatic) To leave things as they are; especially, to avoid restarting or rekindling an old argument; to leave disagreements in the past.
    Eventually, they decided it would be best to let sleeping dogs lie and not discuss the matter any further.

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