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the best-laid plans

Said when something ends poorly or differently than expected, despite preparations for success. It is an abbreviated version of the full proverb "the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray." I always thought our marriage was stable and that we'd be together forever. I guess it's true what they say, though, the best-laid plans and all that. A: "I've been working on this project for six months, and now, right before it's due, they tell me they want something completely different." B: "That's rough. The best-laid plans, I suppose."
See also: plan

the best-laid plans go astray

Said when something ends poorly or differently than expected, despite preparations for success. It is an abbreviated version of the full proverb "the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray." I always thought our marriage was stable and that we'd be together forever. I guess it's true what they say, though, even the best-laid plans go astray. A: "I've been working on this project for six months, and now, right before it's due, they tell me they want something completely different." B: "That's rough. Even the best-laid plans go astray, I suppose."
See also: astray, plan

the best-laid plans of mice and men

Said when something ends poorly or differently than expected, despite preparations for success. It is an abbreviated version of the full proverb "the best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray." I always thought our marriage was stable and that we'd be together forever. I guess it's true what they say, though, the best-laid plans of mice and men and all that. A: "I've been working on this project for six months, and now, right before it's due, they tell me they want something completely different." B: "That's rough. The best-laid plans of mice and men, I suppose."
See also: and, men, mice, of, plan

game plan

A carefully considered strategy. My game plan to secure employment in my field includes gaining as much hands-on experience as I can and obtaining a few more certifications before the end of the year.
See also: game, plan

man plans and God laughs

A phrase that criticizes people's tendency to make plans, as there is no guarantee that plans will work out. I used to make itineraries for our vacations, but nothing ever went as I had planned. Man plans and God laughs, right?
See also: and, god, laugh, man, plan

no plan survives contact with the enemy

Military plans always need to be changed once they are enacted in real-life military situations. The saying emphasizes the need for flexibility, as opposed to strict adherence to strategy. It is attributed to Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, a 19th-century Prussian field marshal. Men, be ready to make changes on the battlefield—we all know that no plan survives contact with the enemy.
See also: contact, enemy, plan, survive

the never-never plan

The act of buying something and paying for it in installments. Primarily heard in UK. I'm still on the never-never plan for some of the gifts I bought last Christmas.
See also: plan

best-laid plans of mice and men oft(en) go astray,

 and best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley.
Prov. Things often go wrong even though you have carefully planned what you are going to do. (The gang aft a-gley version is Scots dialect, and comes from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse.") Jill: I reserved a hotel room for us three weeks ago, but now the clerk says he has no record of our reservation. So much for our fun weekend in the city. Jane: Well, these things happen. The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. I had all the arrangements made for my party, and then the guest of honor got sick and I had to call the whole thing off. The best-laid schemes of mice and men gang aft a-gley. If a little rain can ruin the best-laid plans of mice and men, think what an earthquake might do!
See also: and, astray, men, mice, of, plan

lay something aside

to set something aside; to place something to one side, out of the way. He laid his papers aside and went out to welcome the visitor. He laid aside his papers.
See also: aside, lay

plan for someone

to prepare enough [of something] for someone. Fred just called and said he can show up for dinner after all. Please plan for him. Tony wasn't planned for, and there is no place for him to sit.
See also: plan

plan for something

 
1. to prepare for something. I need to take some time and plan for my retirement. We carefully planned for almost every possibility.
2. to prepare or estimate for a certain number [of people or things]. I am planning for twelve. I hope everyone can come.
See also: plan

plan on someone

to be ready for someone; to anticipate someone's arrival. Don't plan on Sam. He has a cold and probably won't come. We are planning on Ted and Bill.
See also: on, plan

plan on something

to prepare for something; to be ready for something; to anticipate something. If I were you, I would plan on a big crowd at your open house. This was not planned on.
See also: on, plan

plan something out

to make thorough plans for something. Let us sit down and plan our strategy out. We sat down and planned out our strategy.
See also: out, plan

upset someone's plans

Fig. to ruin someone's plans. I hope it doesn't upset your plans if I'm late for the meeting. No, it won't upset my plans at all.
See also: plan, upset

lay aside something

also lay something aside
to ignore something or decide that it is not important Our neighbors laid aside their personal safety to help us save our animals from the fire.
Related vocabulary: set aside something
See also: aside, lay

a game plan

a plan for achieving success, especially in business or politics Part of the firm's game plan is to expand into Eastern Europe.
See also: game, plan

best-laid plans go astray, the

Also, the best-laid schemes go astray. Even very careful designs or projects do not always succeed. For example, Mary spent all afternoon preparing this elaborate dish but forgot the most important ingredient-oh well, the best-laid plans go astray . This particular turn of phrase comes from Robert Burns's poem "To a Mouse" (1786): "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley [go often astray]." It is so well known that it is often abbreviated to the best-laid plans.
See also: plan

lay aside

1. Give up, abandon, as in He laid aside all hopes of winning first prize. [First half of 1400s]
2. Also, lay away; lay by. Set apart for a reason, save for the future, as in They lay aside enough to pay the rent, or Because coffee prices were rising, she laid by enough for a month, or The store laid away the winter coat I wanted. [Early 1700s] The first variant gave rise, about 1970, to the term layaway plan, in which merchandise is laid away for a buyer who pays a deposit and receives it when payment is made in full. Also see lay down, def. 4; set aside.
See also: aside, lay

plan on

1. Have as an aim or purpose, as in We had planned on going to the movies after dinner.
2. Anticipate, prepare for, as in We planned on you to make a speech, or They hadn't planned on such a big crowd. [Early 1900s]
See also: on, plan

lay aside

v.
1. To stop being actively engaged with something: I will lay aside my reading and go for a walk when I finish this chapter. The lifeguard laid the binoculars aside and jumped in the water.
2. To abandon something, especially a plan, hope, or desire; give up something: The marooned sailors had lain aside any hope of being saved. When the loan fell through, they laid their plans of buying a house aside.
3. To save something for the future: I lay aside part of my paycheck every week to save for a new car. Let's lay part of your allowance aside to pay for the movies.
See also: aside, lay

plan ahead

v.
To make arrangements in advance: I planned ahead and bought my tickets a month in advance, which saved me a lot of money.
See also: ahead, plan

plan for

v.
To prepare for something: Many people don't plan for retirement and then find that they haven't saved enough money.
See also: plan

plan on

v.
1. To intend to do something: I plan on buying a house as soon as I get a promotion.
2. To anticipate or expect something: We planned on 50 people coming to our party, so we bought a lot of food. I didn't plan on being stuck in traffic for two hours.
See also: on, plan

plan out

v.
To formulate a detailed scheme or plan for something: Every Monday we have a meeting to plan out the week. The suspects said the murder was an accident, but the police claimed they had planned it all out.
See also: out, plan

game plan

n. a plan of action; a scheme. (From sports.) The game plan for the election was beginning to shape up.
See also: game, plan
References in classic literature ?
Andrea sketched two windows in the room, which formed an angle on the plan, and appeared as a small square added to the rectangle of the bedroom.
Jefferson in warm approbation of the plan, and held out assurance of every protection that could, consistently with general policy, be afforded.
Here he gathered together his few belongings that were to buy him the uncertain safety of escape, and as he stood for a moment beside the little table on which he had piled them he searched his brain for some feasible plan either to ensure his safety or to bring revenge upon his enemies.
His recent disastrous success had convinced him that neither Ithaca nor any other abode of civilization was a safe place to continue his experiments, but it was not until their cruising had brought them among the multitudinous islands of the East Indies that the plan occurred to him that he finally adopted--a plan the outcome of which could he then have foreseen would have sent him scurrying to the safety of his own country with the daughter who was to bear the full brunt of the horrors it entailed.
When alone, Safie resolved in her own mind the plan of conduct that it would become her to pursue in this emergency.
Dashwood could spare them perfectly well; and Elinor, who now understood her sister, and saw to what indifference to almost every thing else she was carried by her eagerness to be with Willoughby again, made no farther direct opposition to the plan, and merely referred it to her mother's decision, from whom however she scarcely expected to receive any support in her endeavour to prevent a visit, which she could not approve of for Marianne, and which on her own account she had particular reasons to avoid.
But it was still far from being the SYSTEM that Vail had dreamed of in his younger days; and so, when the directors put before him his unfinished plan, he surrendered.
Of the different grounds which have been taken in opposition to the plan of the convention, there is none that was so little to have been expected, or is so untenable in itself, as the one from which this particular provision has been attacked.
Admit, for so is the fact, that this plan is only RECOMMENDED, not imposed, yet let it be remembered that it is neither recommended to BLIND approbation, nor to BLIND reprobation; but to that sedate and candid consideration which the magnitude and importance of the subject demand, and which it certainly ought to receive.
But what think you of the plan of the curtain, Barbara?
Porthos led D'Artagnan towards the stone that served him for a table, and upon which the plan was spread.
But at the moment he was about to adopt this plan, he saw the officers around him reading similar orders, which the passive agent of the thoughts of that infernal Colbert had distributed to them.
He wished to explain to Dolgorukov a plan of attack he had himself formed.
The ape-man saw that to charge that wild horde, armed as they were with guns, and barricaded behind the locked gates of the village, would be a futile task, and so he returned to Waziri and advised him to wait; that he, Tarzan, had a better plan.
The plan I had formed seemed to me the best, the surest, and the most simple.