There is a saying commonly used in Turkish, which goes something like: "serving the syrup according to the arteries" (quite literally translated). The meaning behind it is to adapt what you are saying/doing so that it fits the audience and does not irritate or annoy them.

Are there any counterparts in English that convey the same or a similar meaning? I seem to recall that there was one such saying I learned at some point, something with "sail" and "wind".

PS: If the meaning of the original saying does not make immediate sense, think along the lines of syrup being very sweet and heavy, or somewhat lighter and watered-down. And if you have someone that's not well trained and have clogged arteries a heavy-syrup might not go down very well, so you adapt what you serve. (That's how I make sense of the saying, at least)

  • There is a term too -synctabasis
    – Third News
    Commented Jun 21, 2014 at 18:13

5 Answers 5


Perhaps trim one's sails to the wind

make changes to suit one’s new circumstances.

The phrases

are also used to mean

to perform in a manner that will get the strong approval of the audience; to perform in a manner that will get the approval of the lower elements in the audience.


There's one expression in British English which is similar in meaning. We speak of horses for courses.


"serving the syrup according to the arteries" (quite literally translated).

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/cut+your+cloth To cut one's cloth according to the/its width. This is mainly British English and indicates adapting your material (in its widest sense) to the circumstances.


You might try:

Cutting your coat according to your cloth

It is most generally used to mean adapting your spending to your means, but, as no real equivalent to the request exists, and it is an idiom anyway, I think it would work at least as well as any of the other suggestions.

If the situation was that the audience was incapable of appreciating the subtlety or complexity of an argument, you might say that there was no point

casting pearls before swine

But that can be regarded as very negative, bordering on the offensive (despite its biblical origin).

  • I see someone got to the cloth before me. Not sure how I missed it. Try the biblical one instead.
    – David
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 18:21

Perhaps this song addresses what you’re discussing even if the usage of “pandering” seems etymologically inaccurate.

pander (v.) "to indulge (another), to minister to base passions, cater for the lusts of others," c. 1600, from pander (n.). Meaning "to minister to others' prejudices for selfish ends" is from c. 1600. Related: Pandered; panderer; pandering.


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