the best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley

Often used allusively in shortened form (see quot. 1911). Gang aft agley means ‘often go awry’.

1786 BURNS Poems 140 The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men, Gang aft agley.

1911 D. H. LAWRENCE Letter 21 Sept. (1979) I. 305 I am sorry the bookbinding has gone pop. But there ‘The best laid schemes’ etc. etc.

1996 H. P. JEFFERS Reader’s Guide to Murder xxvii. 179 But, like the man said, ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’


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  • best — {{11}}best (adj.) O.E. beste, reduced by assimilation of t from earlier O.E. betst best, first, in the best manner, originally superlative of bot remedy, reparation, the root word now only surviving in to boot (see BOOT (Cf. boot) (2)), though… …   Etymology dictionary

  • gang agley — (of a plan) go wrong Origin: 1786: from Robert Burns s ‘The best laid schemes o Mice an Men, Gang aft agley’ (Poems and Songs) …   Useful english dictionary

  • Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs, Thematic Index — absence absence makes the heart grow fonder he who is absent is always in the wrong the best of friends must part blue are the hills that are far away distance lends enchantment to the view out of sight, out of mind …   Proverbs new dictionary

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  • mouse — see a mouse may help a lion one for the mouse, one for the crow, one to rot, one to grow the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley it doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice a cat in gloves catches no mice …   Proverbs new dictionary

  • failure — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) Nonperformance Nouns 1. failure, unsuccessfulness, nonsuccess, nonfulfillment; dead failure, abortion, miscarriage, malfunction, outage; bankruptcy (see nonpayment); labor in vain; no go; inefficacy;… …   English dictionary for students

  • scheme — see the best laid schemes of mice and men gang aft agley …   Proverbs new dictionary

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