Fellow English Speakers,

I've been trying to translate this common saying from Spanish to English:

Sacar un clavo con otro clavo.

However, I cannot find any translation that satisfies my curiosity, I read some of them from websites like this one:


Some of the suggestions are:

  • One nail/poison/devil drives out another.
  • The best way to get over one man is to get under another.
  • The quickest way to get over one man is to get under another one.

Nevertheless, none of them is a good translation in my opinion, you might ask why? In Spanish the meaning of the saying is that is not a good idea to get rid of a problem with new one. Let's take a real-life example of what I mean.

1st Example:

You're dating a pretty girl, but unfortunately you broke up in a very bad way and then you start dating a new one as soon as possible in order to overcome your ex; nevertheless, you didn't overcome the previous relationship and you're just damaging the other girl because you took a fast and bad decision to start a new relationship when you still had feelings for your ex.

2nd Example:

You hate a job in the cooking field because you're not a good cook and you resign from your current job, but instead of searching for a new job in a new field, you get a new job as a cook, but as a Japanese one and then as a Chinese cook and then as a German cook, in the end you are just trying to drive out a nail with other one, but the situation is still the same one because you still hate cooking.

In Spanish language we use this saying in these kinds of cases. As you can see our meanings is that is a bad idea trying to overcome a problem with another one or get rid of of one with a similar one, we don't use it to say you can overcome your current problem with a greater challenge that helps you "forget it". Thanks for your suggestions.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of What's the English for "chiodo scaccia chiodo"? – user067531 Oct 3 '18 at 12:58
  • 1
    This is called dating on the rebound. I don't know if there's a proverb that goes with it. The nearest I can think of is better the devil you know. – michael.hor257k Oct 3 '18 at 13:14
  • 1
    And sorry if I insist, but the usage you mention appears to be just a variant of the more common one: en.wiktionary.org/wiki/un_clavo_saca_otro_clavo which is the same as the duplicate question. See: clarin.com/entremujeres-mexico/amor-y-sexo/… – user067531 Oct 3 '18 at 13:56
  • 1
    Not the same but related 'out of the frying pan into the fire' means escaping one problem to go to a much worse one. – Mitch Oct 3 '18 at 15:47
  • 2
    I'm voting to close this question as off topic because translation is off topic for this site. (You can ask if you can better express a certain phrase, if you bring up specific concerns, but nobody here should be assumed to understand the other language or what is the "best" translation of it.) And explaining what it means leads to something subjective, which is off topic. – Jason Bassford Oct 3 '18 at 22:21

The remedy is worse than the disease seems to fit.

  • Measures to deal with the evils of one kind or another often make the situation worse. For example, calling in the armed forces during a period of public unrest is liable to make the remedy worse than the disease if it is done too hurriedly.
    Proverb Hunter

EDIT - "six of one, half a dozen of the other" seems like a good fit too.

"... you start dating a new one" but you soon realize you've just substituted half a dozen for six.

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.