In Russian language we have this joke:

  • Is this a taxi?
  • Yes
  • Why isn't the car yellow then?
  • Do you want a yellow car or do you need a ride?

We often use the last phrase of the joke as an idiom, meaning "you can do something right now quickly even if it sounds/looks unusual or incorrect, OR you can wait for a 100% legit opportunity which might take forever". The closest analogy in English I found was written by Shakespeare:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

William Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. Act II. Scene II.

However I'd like to know if there's a simpler everyday saying maybe? Maybe something like "You want brands or goods" will do?

  • 1
    The usual expression is substance, not form (substance over form where so required).
    – Kris
    Nov 26, 2018 at 9:31
  • 2
    @Kris in what sense is that 'the usual expression'? It sounds far more formal than what most people would deploy when trying to get someone else to make up their mind to use an 'off-brand' solution. Search results show it mostly used in a quasi-legal setting when talking about tax, inheritance, accountancy or political commentary and not generally in a way that suggests a lack of legitimacy in the substantive alternative.
    – Spagirl
    Nov 26, 2018 at 10:49
  • 2
    "Do you want it right, or right now?"
    – AmI
    Nov 26, 2018 at 11:04
  • 1
    Dr. Phil, the popular talk show psychologist, coined the phrase "Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?" Nov 26, 2018 at 12:39
  • 2
    @Kris it is what’s asked for in the question though. ‘You can do something right now even if it sounds looks unusual or incorrect, or you can wait for 100% legitimate opportunity’. I just don’t see how your example comes close to posing that question.
    – Spagirl
    Nov 27, 2018 at 7:12

1 Answer 1


Taking the punchline from the joke and using it as an idiom doesn't quite work here. However, similar idioms in English would be:

  1. "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." (Meaning, what you have should be treated as more valuable than what you merely hope for.)

  2. "Make hay while the sun shines." (Meaning, take advantage of a good situation.)

  3. "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink." (Meaning, you offered something good, but you can't force them to take it.)

  • You might add "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" (don't nitpick about something you got for free) which I think is closer to the OP's intended meaning than option 1 or 3.
    – Rykara
    Dec 19, 2018 at 21:14

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