Are there any idioms or succinct ways of expressing your resignation when you

  • give an example
  • the other person reacts with: "that's not what I meant".

…but your intention was for the example to be interpreted metaphorically? "It was just an example."

  • 4
    Never mind... is the most common idiom, although particularly for "resignation" there are also e.g. I give up! and What's the use?; both are usually preceded with a sigh spelt Oh or some sound indicating disgust / frustration, such as Ugh or Argh! – Will Crawford Mar 18 '18 at 18:20
  • Broadly? No. If you think there could be, why not show some research or exmples or preferbly, both? – Robbie Goodwin Apr 8 '18 at 16:31
  • I think this is more of etiquette and a how to communicate more than an English language question. @WillCrawford 's suggestion "never mind" is an excellent way of expressing a mild rebuke of the other's lack of good will in engagement IF the "that's not what I meant" was not followed by an explanation of what they meant. If you want to keep the conversation open(say with your child), a "I tried, what am I missing?" would invite them to examine your words more broadly to form an explanation – Tom22 May 16 '18 at 3:24

It is one of the scenarios where the expression casting pearls before swine applies.

from CED:

cast pearls before swine ​ to offer something valuable or good to someone who does not know its value:

I'm afraid you're casting pearls before swine with your good advice – he won't listen.

And from Collins Cobuild Idioms Dictionary:

If you cast pearls before swine, you offer something valuable to someone who is not good enough or clever enough to appreciate it.

The expression is from Matthew 7:6:

New International Version {BibleHub}

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

[Note that this is a chiastic structure, A B B' A'; it is the dogs that might tear you to pieces, and the pigs that might trample the goodies into the mud.)

The metaphor has been further broadened to include anything worthwhile, not just at the overtly spiritual level. The possible unwarranted opposition from those one is trying to help is clear in the complete verse (and implicit in the usual shortened form).

So "I must remember to be careful not to cast pearls before swine," preferably not in the other person's hearing.

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