Is there a term to concisely describe the following scenario and all similar like it:

Let's say Bob and Alice are in a predicament and Bob wants to do a Thing that he and many others believe will solve the problem.

However, Alice knows for a fact that if Bob does Thing, he will fail and there will be adverse consequences for both Bob and Alice, and there is nothing she will be able to do to stop it once it is in motion. Furthermore, Alice does not have a better alternative to achieve the desired outcome, but again she knows the approach Bob wants to take will not work and actually make things worse.

Furthermore, Alice cannot dissuade Bob as there is no sound way to prove what she knows, and all attempts are met with incredulity and accusation of recklessness by Bob and others for not wanting to do a Thing that they believe will alleviate a situation, and she has no alternatives to offer, and she cannot exit the situation.

So Alice chooses to surrender and let Bob proceed so that it just plays out and everybody recognizes the facts.

Is there a term to describe Alice's ultimate decision?

  • Hang on, the Edit has reversed the situation, after answers have been posted. That is not how SE works: it isn't a rolling discussion. Aug 9, 2022 at 20:00
  • Sorry about that, I didn't think it substantially altered the situation, the original was fine as it was then. Thanks.
    – Wally
    Aug 9, 2022 at 20:35

3 Answers 3


Alice is letting the chips fall where they may. This idiom indicates that someone has accepted the current course of action, whether the ultimate outcome is good or bad. They are not actively trying to change how things will unfold, but will instead just let things play out as they are. It doesn't necessarily imply that Alice knows that a poor outcome will definitely occur from this course of action, but does indicate that she is not taking any action to alter whatever the outcome will be. Usually the phrase would be used when there is at least the possibility of a poor outcome, since anyone would naturally be accepting of an assured good outcome.

let the chips fall where they may: to allow events to happen without trying to change them —usually used to suggest that one is willing to accept a result, whatever it may be.

  • I suppose this to be American? It is not something I have heard in many decades of British English usage.
    – Anton
    Aug 10, 2022 at 12:51
  • @Anton I wouldn't say I hear it particularly often in American English, but it's not an obscure turn of phrase, either. To clarify for the Brits, "chips" here alludes to gambling chips and the lack of control in a game of chance, not French fries. Aug 10, 2022 at 12:57
  • Yes I agree it is clear; the allusion is entirely plain. Nevertheless, I have never heard it here, despite other usage such as “when the chips are down”., meaning something like “when a matter has reached its end and all uncertainty is resolved”.
    – Anton
    Aug 10, 2022 at 13:52
  • @Anton Hm, that's different from how "when the chips are down" is used in American English. To me, it's used to refer to a difficult or critical period that has an uncertain outcome - you've placed your bet and await the outcome. "When the chips are down" occurs directly before the final conclusion, but doesn't refer to the ultimate result. It is a period of great uncertainty, not the resolution of it. Aug 11, 2022 at 18:56

Alice can

take a back seat

Take or be given a less important position or role.
in future she would take a back seat in politics

From Lexico.

take a back seat

If you take a back seat, you allow other people to have all the power, importance, or responsibility.
I was happy to take a back seat and give someone else the opportunity to manage the project.

From Farlex.


Alice just goes with the flow.

go with the flow
to do what other people are doing or to agree with other people because it is the easiest thing to do

or even more pertinent:

If you go with the flow, you let things happen or let other people tell you what to do, rather than trying to control what happens yourself. There's nothing I can do about the problem, so I might as well go with the flow.

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