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92

The house always wins is a proverb that comes out of gambling, where the house, the people running the gambling establishment, are setting up the rules so that they themselves are favored.


66

They fell at the last hurdle1 would be appropriate if that final shortcoming meant the results were completely worthless. In other contexts, Close, but no cigar!2 might be better. EDIT: Since no-one else seems to have mentioned it, there's also fail at the last hurdle, with an estimated 114 instances in print (vs 410 for fall at the last hurdle, 264 for ...


59

The most common English phrase for this is between a rock and a hard place. It means: In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options. Specifically, to say you are caught between a rock and a hard place means that you are in a dilemma. The exact dilemma seems to be exactly what you're describing--Morton's fork, which is: a ...


53

There is a phrase that has been adopted from gymnastics stick the landing, meaning to hold perfect form in the final jump or dismount. The term has been adopted into broader usage Execute flawlessly from the beginning through the end. Follow through. All phases of the sales cycle require great attention to detail but to be successful, we must "stick ...


53

"When in Rome," short for "When in Rome, do as the Romans do," could work. It expresses the notion of doing what everyone else does, though it perhaps more justifies than describes such a situation.


51

The two phrases that spring to mind are "follow the crowd" and "jump on the bandwagon". follow the crowd: to do what everyone else is doing; go along with the majority; do what most others are doing I am an independent thinker. I could never just follow the crowd. When in doubt, I follow the crowd. At least I don't stand out like a fool. ...


51

Life is swings and roundabouts This is a shortened version of the fairground proverb 'What you lose on the swings you win on the roundabouts', current from the beginning of the twentieth century in various forms. It is used to mean that things will balance out in the end. Source: Penguin Dictionary of Cliches (British & Australian) also what ...


47

We do have an expression, "in one ear and out the other" His boss's admonition went in one ear and out the other and he was fired. One could also say, "His boss's admonition fell on deaf ears.


44

The following comes to mind: Better to be a big fish in a little pond than a little fish in a big pond. Although for 鶏口となるも牛後となるなかれ, http://kotowaza-allguide.com/ke/keikoutonarumo.html gives the following, which I personally had never heard: Better be the head of a dog than the tail of a lion. Better be first in a village than second at ...


43

There's an English proverb that seems to cover this situation (ironically or otherwise), namely: Might is right which also exists as Might makes right The explanation plus example at thefreedictionary.com reads as follows: The belief that you can do what you want because you are the most powerful person or country: To allow this ...


42

Try 'One door closes, another opens'. Doors tend to play an important part in western opportunity metaphor. Is the door open or closed to you?


41

Consider, go with the flow and follow the herd. go with the flow: also, go with the tide. Move along with the prevailing forces, accept the prevailing trend, as in Rather than striking out in new directions, I tend to go with the flow, or Pat isn't particularly original; she just goes with the tide. The flow in the first and more colloquial term, ...


41

I would think the idiom we are looking for is closer to Provide him with a fighting chance or a level playing field As for the Don't kick a man... I would contest that the rival in the narrative might not have been down, just lacking salt... I think the saying reflects something earlier than when the enemy is down (but could possibly also be used in that ...


41

As Marc pointed out in his answer, there is an Australian version, although his wording is much more proper than I would expect from us Aussies. I have always heard it expressed as "Tall poppies get cut short". Also, check out Tall Poppy Syndrome.


40

One popular⁷ saying for this is If a stone falls on an egg, alas for the egg. If an egg falls on a stone, alas for the egg. According to various sources, it is of Arab origin; of Chinese origin; of Cypriot Greek origin; et al. (1,2,3,4,5,6). Part of the lyrics for a song about this appear on a mudcat.org webpage. The chorus: If a rock falls on ...


39

Consider, What doesn't kill you makes you stronger or That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger : used to express the sentiment that hardship or difficult experiences build moral character. Wiktionary 雨降って地固まる (ame futte ji katamaru) “The rain falls, the ground hardens” is what this phrase is telling us. Basically, numerous storms and ...


39

Any allusion to "Other People's Money" or OPM will have this sense. The phrase has been in use since the 18th century to designate, variously, the moral obliquity of inherited wealth, the readiness of politicians to spend taxpayer wealth, and the desire of manufacturers to drive up prices by tariffs. Its most usual modern sense, leveraging investments with ...


36

I know the questioner wanted proverbs that value conformity, but this proverb comes to mind immediately: The squeaky wheel gets the grease It has the exact opposite meaning to the proverb in the question, but the sentiment is similar: it describes what happens to something (or someone) that draws attention to itself (himself). If the questioner is ...


35

The most obvious parallel is "butt ugly", common in the US. But, I think that sraka as a term for the buttocks probably is related to srat', срать , some form of which means "to shit" in all Slavic languages, as far as I know. Sraka means magpie (the bird) in some Slavic languages, by the way- there are some funny misunderstandings when speakers of ...


34

I heard this phrase used, I think by a Korean, in a documentary called BBoy Planet. There, it was translated as "The nail that sticks out gets hammered down", which seems to carry the meaning better into English. English phrases with similar connotations might include... Keep your head down. Don't stick your neck out. It's difficult because, as you ...


33

It may seem like a long shot but consider the quote from Milton's Paradise Lost: Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven. even though it may carry additional (sarcastic ?) meaning.


32

A horses teeth are regarded as a good guide to its age. When you buy a horse you check its teeth to see if they match the age of the horse according to the seller. If someone gives you a horse as a gift, it is considered ungrateful to check its teeth. You are pointedly drawing attention to your doubts about the quality of the gift.


32

Blessing in disguise This English idiom is pretty straightforward, and it fits the immediate meaning of old Sai losing his horse (although in the full story, the chain of events turns sour and sweet alternately). When old Sai lost his horse, you could say this is a blessing in disguise, as the horse later returns with a herd. This link here also uses this ...


32

Skin in the game From Wikipedia: To have "skin in the game" is to have incurred monetary risk by being invested in achieving a goal. The problem with the lab leaders is that they don't have any skin in the game.


31

This is like "it's better to buy insurance and not need it (than it is to not have insurance and need it)." In this phrase, being safe requires effort to be in that condition, but the effort is small compared to what loss might occur if that effort weren't made. Examples are: It's better to check behind your car every time you back out of your driveway, ...


30

There are a number of these in English. Between a rock and a hard place. Between Scylla and Charybdis. Between the devil and the deep blue sea. As well as the closely related expression: Out of the frying pan and into the fire.


29

There is a proverb for this: The weakest go to the wall From the book "The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs" By Martin H. Manser (2007):


29

A common, humorous way of saying that someone has an ugly face is to say that they have a face only a mother could love. Naturally, a mother will always find her child beautiful—the implication here is that absolutely no one else will. It is relatively offensive, but it doesn’t sound anywhere near as offensive as the Ukrainian version, where you’re ...


28

Consider every cloud has a silver lining. Every bad situation has some good aspect to it. This proverb is usually said as an encouragement to a person who is overcome by some difficulty and is unable to see any positive way forward. [The Phrase Finder] This source attributes the origin to John Milton: Comus: A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634 ...



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