I'm searching for an idiom (in a negative sense) that means that a group of people have different opinions, so it's difficult for them to solve a problem, to decide on something or agree on something. Example:

  • They couldn't decide where to go, because everyone had a different opinion.
  • Since the members of the political party have different opinions about its name, we'll have to wait before designing the campaign.
  • "Nobody Agreed" or "Everybody Disagreed" is the situation, but hardly rises to the level of idiom. It is a bit to common a situation to be enshrined forever.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 25 '14 at 21:13
  • It's almost a case of "too many cooks spoiling the broth", but I think not quite what you are after
    – long
    Mar 25 '14 at 21:26
  • Thanks, but you're right;it's not quite what I'm looking for. The idiom you have written means something won't be done well as a result of too many people being involved.Good try!
    – Vic
    Mar 25 '14 at 21:31
  • 3
    I like "herding cats." I've also heard "herding squirrels" but I like "herding cats."
    – Val
    Mar 25 '14 at 21:37
  • I think that's very close, but what I'm searching for doesn't have the meaning of "handling" a group of people, which"herding cats implies". I'm searching for something that implies that each member of the group can't agree or communicate with the rest because he's/she's insist on their own opinion, or way. Thanks, though!
    – Vic
    Mar 25 '14 at 21:49

The phrase that comes to my mind is "the lack of consensus".

According to Merriam-Webster, consensus is:

: a general agreement about something : an idea or opinion that is shared by all the people in a group

Example from nytimes.com:

The scientists, several of whom had publicly debated the hurricane-climate connection in recent months, said they were concerned that the lack of consensus on the climate link could stall actions that could cut vulnerability — no matter what is influencing hurricane trends.

  • 2
    Not really. Lack of consensus just means that they all did not agree, but there could have been as few as two different ideas. The original question was that nobody agreed with anybody, so for N persons there were N ideas.
    – Oldcat
    Mar 26 '14 at 0:31
  • I was about to suggest "dissensus" as a neologism that seems understandable, but it turns out that it's already a word, meaning "widespread dissent". Jun 17 '21 at 2:52

That sounds like you are looking for:

Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and it stinks.


"Too many cooks in the kitchen." I've also heard "Too many chiefs, not enough indians" if you don't mind the subtle racism.

  • 1
    To me those seem to mean more that everyone wants to be in charge, rather than just not agreeing.
    – fooot
    Mar 25 '14 at 22:17
  • @ fooot: all the "chiefs" want to make the decision. Which is exactly your problem. If they were more flexible and less wedded to their particular opinion, then they would compromise and accept someone else's idea. Apr 15 '21 at 15:22

They are not in agreement on something.


I am also looking for similar translation. Since we don't have the exact one, how about this combination using idioms as follows: We won't work in tandem, because we don't see eye to eye.


Fred Shapiro, The Yale Book of Quotations credits Terence (who died in 159 B.C.) with the observation, Quot homines tot setentiae, which the dictionary translates as

There are as many opinions as there are people.

A similar notion appears in this exchange between Congressman John McCormack of Massachusetts and George Schmidt, president of the Eastern Meat Packers Association, in the latter's testimony on the proposed Revenue Act of 1936 before the House Ways and Means Committee on April 2, 1936:

Mr. McCORMACK. If the facts are so clear, would you not have confidence in the Internal Revenue Bureau?

Mr. SCHMIDT. I do not think that it would be a question of confidence. I think it would be a question of differences of opinion between technical men. I can take two accountants, and they will have entirely divergent opinions; and I can get a thousand and one, and they will bring me a thousand and one different opinions.

A further play on this notion appears in expressions of the following form, from Ronald Johns, "Ordovician Lithistid Sponges of the Great Basin" (1994):

At times it seems as if the old adage about economists also holds true for sponge taxonomists: if you put two of them together in a room, you'll end up with three different opinions.


It sounds like the saying

A camel looks like a horse that was planned by a committee. (Often misquoted as A camel is a horse designed by a committee.)


"They don't see eye to eye on that subject"


"They are not of the same mind"

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.