put the cart before the horse

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put the cart before the horse

  1. (idiomatic) To put things in the wrong order or with the wrong priorities; to put something inconsequential as more important than something more essential.
    • 1898, Julian Hawthorne, The History of the United States, ch. 1,
      The hour had struck; and with it, as always, appeared the man. So it has ever been in the history of the world; though we, with characteristic vanity, uniformly put the cart before the horse, and declare that it is the man that brings the hour.
    • 1957, "Corruption of the Mind," Time, 2 Dec.,
      To attempt to remove the armaments before removing these substantive conflicts of interest is to put the cart before the horse.
    • 2005, David D. Kirkpatrick, "Timing of Hearings and Vote Stalls Confirmation Talks," New York Times, 27 Jul. (retrieved 6 Nov. 2008),
      Mr. Schumer said that the idea of agreeing to a date for a vote before the committee had held hearings was "to put the cart before horse."