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 a 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 another one, but the situation is still the same one because you still hate cooking.

In the Spanish language, we use this saying in these kinds of cases. As you can see our meaning is that is a bad idea trying to overcome a problem with another one or get rid 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.

  • 2
    Possible duplicate of What's the English for "chiodo scaccia chiodo"?
    – user 66974
    Oct 3, 2018 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. Oct 3, 2018 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/…
    – user 66974
    Oct 3, 2018 at 13:56
  • 3
    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, 2018 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. Oct 3, 2018 at 22:21

2 Answers 2


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.


For "un clavo saca a otro clavo"

I would like to suggest: "Out with the old, in with the new".

  • 1
    That doesn't come close to what the OP is looking for. Have you read the question completely?
    – Joachim
    Jan 13, 2022 at 18:52

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