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Say you have a beautiful shoe but its size is too small for your foot, what would you do to wear it? We Vietnamese people would recommend you to "trim the foot to fit the shoe". How would English people say on the act of doing everything to keep the wrong thing?

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    The most common phrase is probably "good money after bad", though it's likely not equivalent in all contexts.
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 10, 2018 at 13:45
  • if the shoe does ~not~ fit ... wear it!
    – lbf
    Mar 10, 2018 at 14:13
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    If at first it doesn’t fit- Force it.
    – Jim
    Mar 10, 2018 at 14:14
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    In the Cinderella story as recorded by the Grimms, each of the stepsisters actually does trim her foot to fit the shoe. (This does not happen in the Disney film.) The deception fails in the end. When you say "recommend," do you mean to actually encourage someone to keep the wrong thing, or do you mean to explain to them that the effort to keep the wrong thing will be harmful?
    – David K
    Mar 10, 2018 at 18:42
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    If the intention of the idiom is to point out the folly trying to keep an unsuitable thing, then it seems to me that "trim the foot to fit the shoe" translates perfectly into English, and if it is not already a common English-language aphorism, it should be.
    – David K
    Mar 10, 2018 at 22:58

5 Answers 5

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Though it doesn't sound as dramatic, an idiom which comes very close to "trim the foot to fit the shoe" is put the cart before the horse. Refer to the definitions below in this context:

To put things in the wrong order or with the wrong priorities (shoe over foot).

to put something inconsequential (shoe) as more important than something more essential (foot).

Wiktionary:

Verb
put the cart before the horse

(idiomatic) To put things in the wrong order or with the wrong priorities; to put something inconsequential as more important than something more essential.

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shoe the goose TFD

To attempt a futile or pointless task.

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As @DavidK says, if the intention of the idiom is to point out the folly trying to keep an unsuitable thing, then "trim the foot to fit the shoe" translates perfectly into English, and if it is not already a common English-language aphorism, it should be.

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Shoehorn

"Shoehorning" has come to mean, mostly in American English, the act of coercing or pressuring an individual into a situation which does not leave enough room, either literally or figuratively. Shoehorning in a conversational context means to force someone to take one of a limited number of positions, neither of which may adequately express what the individual wants to say (a "For me or against me"-scenario). Shoehorning in a more literal sense can express itself as pushing a number of individuals into an overfilled enclosure of space, such as a theater or a bus ("the usher shoehorned us into the back of the crowded theater").

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Stubborn attachment to a misfit often results in being stuck with an awkward square peg in a round hole. It's ungainly.

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