Let sleeping dogs lie – What’s the meaning?

Hey guys, it’s Studycat here! I came across another odd English phrase today, ‘let sleeping dogs lie’.

We all know that cats and dogs don’t always get along. Despite what many people will say, I don’t really have any problems with dogs. I actually like lots of dogs. However, if a dog is sleeping it is best to let him or her lie.

In English, we will say ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ to mean that we should not disturb things that are calm or we should not pursue an argument that has been resolved already. While this sounds like a great idea, it’s not a very catchy way to say it, so I guess that’s why this idiom is so popular!

let sleeping dogs lie


Where did ‘let sleeping dogs lie’ come from?

The original quote is `It is nought good a sleping hound to wake,'(sic). This stems from Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem Troilus and Criseyde, published in 1374.

It seems like it was used in French even earlier in the 14th century, in Proverbia Vulgalia et Latina, where the saying is: “Ne reveillez pas le chien qui dort.” Translation: Do not wake the dog that sleeps.

So, if you see a dog sleeping, let him or her sleep. They can be a bit grumpy when they wake up.

Bye for now. I am off to get some sleep. Feel free to let me lie too!

Oh, and if you want to find out more interesting things about English, you can get my Fun English app here!