For example, I like both ketchup and pancakes but not together.

How can I say something like that idiomatically?

I want to say that two things are good but they just don't mix well together.

  • 4
    They don't go together well.
    – Drew
    Apr 16, 2017 at 23:44
  • 2
    Oil and water is the usual idiom/phrase, no? Apr 17, 2017 at 2:12
  • 2
    Technically, if they don't mix (eg, as oil and water don't mix) they are immiscible.
    – Hot Licks
    May 20, 2017 at 12:31
  • 2
    Pancakes and ketchup are incompatible. They have irreconcilable differences (or simply, they are irreconcilable). They constitute a wedding, but not one made in heaven. They must needs be divorced from each other. They need to agree to disagree agreeably. There ought to be a legal separation between the two. May 20, 2017 at 14:08
  • 2
    I can assure you that there are thousands, if not millions, of kids in the US who like to put ketchup on their pancakes.
    – Hot Licks
    May 21, 2017 at 0:05

2 Answers 2


Idiomatically, something along the lines of "mesh" would work in the place of "go together," as the word's usage as a verb according to Oxford is:


1. [no object] (of the teeth of a gearwheel) be engaged with another gearwheel.

‘one gear meshes with the input gear’

1.1 Make or become entangled or entwined.

[no object] ‘their fingers meshed’

[with object] ‘I don't want to get meshed in the weeds’

1.2 Be in or bring into harmony.

[no object] ‘her memory of events doesn't mesh with the world around her’

In your (particularly unappealing) case, I think the second bolded verb definition would be applicable, and something along the lines of "while pancakes and ketchup are delicious on their own, they don't mesh well" would probably work. Hope this is of help!


You can say that pancakes and ketchup do not go well together.

From the Oxford English Dictionary:

to go together

  1. Of two or more things: to be mutually compatible, concomitant, or complementary. Also of a thing: to be concomitant or concurrent with another.

Compare the comment by Drew:

They don't go together well.

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