perfect is the enemy of good

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Variant of the older the best is the enemy of the good, popularized by Voltaire in French as le mieux est l’ennemi du bien,[1] itself a translation of the Italian proverb il meglio è nemico del bene.[2]

Proverb[edit]

perfect is the enemy of good

  1. Insistence on perfection often precludes the opportunity for something worthwhile.
  2. Insistence on perfection precludes gradual improvement through compromises.

Derived terms[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Voltaire (1772), “La Bégueule [The Prissy]”, in Contes en vers (in French): “Dans ses écrits un sage Italien / Dit que le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”
  2. ^ Voltaire (1764), “Art dramatique”, in Dictionnaire philosophique (in French), published 1878: “C’est bien ici qu’on peut dire : Il meglio è l’inimico del bene”

Further reading[edit]