I was writing a conclusion and I'm in need of using an idiom with this meaning. I remember there is one (but might be confused with other language's idioms, if so pls correct me) but it seems to have zero results online. If there it none, pls suggest any other phrases/sentences on how to express this meaning.

  • Since we have little context, I'm going to suggest "With great power comes great responsibility", alternatively known as the Peter Parker principle. (This was spoken by the fictional Peter Parker / Spider-man, and has a richer history than the comic books at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…)
    – rajah9
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 16:40
  • I think the OP is looking for an idiom that is focused on the benefit of acquiring a skill or a tool. Perhaps something like "work smarter, not harder".
    – user888379
    Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 17:02
  • You'll sometimes hear something described as "a force for good in the right hands," meaning that when someone is knowledgeable about the thing under discussion, they can use it to bring good things to the world. Commented Mar 9, 2021 at 21:42

1 Answer 1


Fire is a good friend but a bad master.

The old saying "Fire is a good friend but a bad master" is quite true.

[Challenge; 2017]

Fire is a good servant but a bad master [proverb]

Fire is useful when monitored and controlled. Left unchecked, however, it is quite dangerous and destructive.

[Farlex Dictionary of Idioms]

Oxford Reference gives the idiomatic broadening:

Fire is a good servant but a bad master

Something that is benign and useful if well controlled becomes a danger if it is allowed to take over.

And a famous example (in three variants!):

A cautionary statement about statecraft has often been attributed to George Washington. Here are three versions:

  1. Government is like fire, a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

  2. Government, like fire, is a troublesome servant and a terrible master.

  3. A government is like fire, a handy servant, but a dangerous master.

[ Quote Investigator]

And other variants:

  • The press, like fire, is an excellent servant, but a terrible master. [James Fenimore Cooper]

  • Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master [Christian Lous Lange]

[Know Your Quotes]

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