3

The idiom Hundred blows of goldsmith is comparable to one blow of iron-smith comes from a hindi idiom "Sau sunar ki, ek lohar ki". Literal meaning is

One powerful blow is comparable to a hundred smaller blows.

The figurative meaning is

One tactic from a smart man is equal to the hundreds tactics of an idiot.

Or can be used in a fighting/boxing

One knockout is better than hundred punches.

I'm looking for another idiom or small phrase to use.

3

A nice Biblical analog is from Ecclesiasties 10:10.

If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

Not quite along the same lines, but similar imagery to your idiom comes up in Proverbs 17:10.

A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.

2

There is a similar and very common idiom in English:

Quality over quantity

This is often taught using various Aesop's tales and is rather ingrained in American culture. It appears to differ slightly from the idiom you have translated in the sense that "quality over quantity" has less to do with tactics and more to do with value.

A more tactics based idiom is:

Measure twice; cut once

This means that taking time to plan out a strategy will reduce costs in the long run. It is better to do it the right way the first time.

This loses the sense of quality or inherent superiority contained in the comparison between two different things (i.e., the smart man versus the idiot) but the general idea is similar.

A third idiom that, again, gets somewhat close:

Penny wise; pound foolish

This cautions against the habit of obsessing over every single detail and, as a consequence, costing yourself more in the process. It keys on the definition of "penny" as a smaller monetary unit than a "pound". The Americanism would be "penny wise; dollar foolish."

These last two idioms have plenty of variants that apply in specific circumstances. One more I remember off the top of my head is "Lost the battle but won the war."


In the end, I would claim that "quality over quantity" is the most similar but, depending on your intended usage, the other idioms quoted here would also be acceptable.

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The closest I can get to the figurative meaning is "practice makes perfect", which of course is less close still to the literal meaning.

(As to the goldsmith vs. the ironsmith, that only makes me think of an entirely different idiom, "apples to oranges", as these are two very different professions with very different skill sets. I for one wouldn't want an ironsmith with his powerful blows anywhere near my precious jewellery. I fully understand that idioms don't have to actually make any sense, but still.)

  • I think you didn't get the meaning, I have added another explanation. – Anirban Nag 'tintinmj' Feb 5 '14 at 12:14
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    I think I got the meaning just fine (even though the four alternatives you provide are actually all rather different). What I am saying is that there is no exact equivalent I can think of, and mentioning the closest I can come to it. The closest can still be far. – RegDwigнt Feb 5 '14 at 12:19

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