Just now I read the phrase's meaning and was surprised.

I always thought that the meaning goes like this: if something is in a really bad or unacceptable condition, but it's serving the purpose, then don't dispose of it, or don't complain unnecessarily about it.

Don't you think the meaning I explained is closer to the phrase?

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    A phrase that more closely aligns with your interpretation is "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." :)
    – Roger
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 18:29
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    Are you perhaps thinking of if it ain't broke, don't fix it? I've always understood if the shoe fits in the sense given, similar to if it looks like a duck.
    – choster
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 18:29

4 Answers 4


No, it doesn't have anything to do with the utility still left in an object or imperfect situation.

There is an idiom (or proverb) for a situation in which, when something is in a really bad/unacceptable condition but serviceable, then don't dispose of it.

The phrase is "make do" or, more frugal yet, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without."

If the shoe fits... originally it came from "if the cap fits...", which alluded to a fool's cap and dates from the early 1700s. It is thought that it changed to shoe as a result of the Cinderella tale.

"If the shoe fits, wear it" means, if something has all of the characteristics of a thing, it probably is that thing. More specifically, when a person has certain behaviors consistent with [unflattering label], then they should not object because they have been described that way. A person who acts a fool should not object to wearing a fool's cap.

E.g. Imagine person A is always prying into everyone's life, including that of person B. B doesn't like it, and says to A, "I don't like busybodies". A says, "Are you calling me a busybody?" Person B then replies, "If the shoe fits, wear it."

If it describes you, it probably is you.

  • good explanation the example changed the image of this phrase in my mind
    – shabby
    Commented Feb 18, 2014 at 18:39
  • Not entirely accurate according to this article. phrases.org.uk/meanings/if-the-shoe-fits.html Commented Nov 8, 2015 at 12:43
  • @chaslyfromUK - Kindly explain how so? It gives an additional earlier rendition (cloak), which I omitted, but my answer is entirely accurate, even according to that article. Mind you, I don't take offense at being corrected. Being correctly called out is an opportunity to learn. But omission of an earlier rendition is not the same as being inaccurate. Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 14:01
  • Thorough explanation Idiom 1 and Idiom 2. Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 12:14

My understanding of "If the shoe fits, wear it" is that if something suits your purpose, use it (for example, in response to someone who suggests another way of doing something that I am doing and I do not think that the other way is better).

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    Hello, Mirielle. I suggest you look the proverb up in major reference works on the internet. Your understanding of the phrase seems non-standard. // Answers here should always be more than unsupported opinion. Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 11:40

My interpretation of this is about life in general. If something in life doesn't work for you then find another fit. We are all not a one size fits all personality. We all have our own characteristics that allow us to fit somewhere where we belong rather than forcing something upon ourselves Tha doesn't feel right

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage! This is really a comment, not an answer. With a bit more rep, you will be able to post comments. For the moment I've added the comment for you, and I'm flagging this post for deletion.
    – Helmar
    Commented Nov 1, 2016 at 13:11

It simply means ''dont try so hard'' this phrase orginated from the fairytale of Cinderella you may be wondering why. We all saw the happy ending version of Cinderella, the family friendly one but in the actual story cinderella's step sister cut off their toes! so that the heal could fit.

  • Hello and welcome to the EL&U. Your answer would be even better if your provided reliable sources proving that the information you are giving is correct!
    – fev
    Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 15:16
  • As mentioned in the OP " In 1634, Giambattista Basile, published Il Pentamerone, a popular collection of Italian folk tales. One of the stories, Cenerentola, is the basis of the Cinderella story as we now know it, complete with wicked stepmother, ugly sisters and a missing slipper." Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 17:55

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