Does English have any proverbs or other sayings meaning "One should not use expensive items to do an everyday thing" ?

For instance :

Don't buy a Ferrari to run on a dirt road or park in a multistory.

  • 3
    There are fewer Google hits than I expected for '[You] don't use a racehorse to pull a [coal / farm] cart.' Nov 17, 2016 at 13:16
  • 2
    Billions are spent on trying to convince us we should. I suspect any such idiom has been drug off and buried in a shallow grave in the desert.
    – Phil Sweet
    Nov 17, 2016 at 13:16
  • I've actually seen an $80 spork in a store.
    – The Nate
    Nov 17, 2016 at 19:08
  • @EdwinAshworth I thought the same thing--"using a racehorse to (do some mundane horsey task)" came to mind immediately, but I also found few references. Nov 21, 2016 at 22:26
  • There are correspondingly few for "There's no need to get out your best china". Nov 21, 2016 at 22:45

3 Answers 3


It's less to do with "use", and more to do with something of quality for an unappreciative recipient, but: "Pearls before swine".


Not exactly in the league of a Ferrari or a race horse, but (depending on the way we look at it,) a sledgehammer may be a relatively expensive tool to crack a nut.


use a sledgehammer to crack a nut

(idiomatic) To use significantly excessive force to carry out an action; to do something overzealously  

Today, Mr Worthington, an engineer, said: 'Sending three officers over simply to give a warning about kids playing football in the street is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.


"Smash it with a golden hammer." seems a good fit.

I can't think of all that many common idioms for this specific idea, but this is description: you can assemble things to fit.

References to things like "the good china" can work. e.g. "Like taking the good china to a picnic"

You just need to make sure that the listener is clear that the thing in question it's fancy and expensive and that the task is normally done with basic tools. Idiom doesn't need to be common to be understandable.

(References to silver bullets can make this point, but carries references to superstition or destroying evil.

"Gold/Platinum bullets" would scrape off the extra meanings fairly well.

"Gold-plated" as an adjective usually denotes 'expensive but not better'. Outside jewelry and electronics, that's generally understood.

"Spinning rims" denote pure decoration, if that's you point.)

  • Is 'smash it with a golden hammer' actually used? ELU is about English usage, not DIY. Nov 17, 2016 at 19:15
  • Yes, in fact, it is used, but I've no clue how widely. That said, the English language absolutely is DIY. You assemble metaphors and similes to convey your point. Idiom is simply the set that is popular in the culture at the time in question. Anyone shifting cultures needs to develop strategies for recognizing and interpreting these things, even native English to native English.
    – The Nate
    Nov 17, 2016 at 19:26
  • 'Idiom is simply the set that is popular in the culture at the time in question.' / 'Does English have any proverbs or other sayings?' and ' "Smash it with a golden hammer." seems a good fit.' do not match up. I've found 3 distinct examples of the string on Google. Nov 17, 2016 at 19:42
  • I've seen it used in a TV ad and have heard it from time to time. Can't tell you where to look online.
    – The Nate
    Nov 17, 2016 at 22:04

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