best-laid plans go astray, the

Idioms & Phrases

best-laid plans go astray, the

Also, the best-laid schemes go astray. Even very careful designs or projects do not always succeed. For example, Mary spent all afternoon preparing this elaborate dish but forgot the most important ingredientoh well, the best-laid plans go astray. This particular turn of phrase comes from Robert Burns's poem "To a Mouse" (1786): "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley [go often astray]." It is so well known that it is often abbreviated to the best-laid plans.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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