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be prepared

1. To remain in a state of preparedness for any unexpected or uncertain occasion that may arise. Popularized by the Boy Scouts of America, who use the phrase as their motto. It's a good thing I always carry a spare bicycle tube when I cycle to work. Like the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared!
2. To always carry a prophylactic (condom) or other means of preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, should an unexpected sexual encounter arise. A euphemistic appropriation of the motto of the Boy Scouts of America, "Be prepared." When you begin dating someone new, you should always be prepared!
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Hope for the best and prepare for the worst,

 and Hope for the best but expect the worst.
Prov. You should have a positive attitude, but make sure you are ready for disaster. While my father was in the hospital after his heart attack, we hoped for the best and prepared for the worst. When you study for a major exam, hope for the best but expect the worst. Don't make yourself anxious worrying that it will be too difficult, but review as if you expect the exam to be extremely hard.
See also: and, hope, prepare, worst

If you want peace, (you must) prepare for war.

Prov. If a country is well armed, its opponents will be less likely to attack it. Wilbur was always arguing with those of his friends who believed in disarmament. "Getting rid of our weapons won't promote peace," he would say. "If you want peace, you must prepare for war."
See also: if, prepare, want, war

prepare someone for something

to build someone up for shocking news. I went in and had a talk with her to prepare her for the report. You should prepare yourself for the worst.
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prepare someone or something for something

to get someone or something ready for something. I prepared her for her trip by going over her itinerary. I prepared the garden for planting.
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prepare the ground for something

to make conditions ready for something to happen in the future These experiments prepared the ground for the development of sound-recording technology.
Usage notes: often used in a political context: Even if she is preparing the ground to run for governor, the senator will probably stay in the Senate.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of prepare the ground (to make land ready for planting crops)
See also: ground, prepare

prepare the way (for somebody/something)

to create an opportunity for something to happen His comments prepared the way for the two organizations to work together. Her election prepared the way for me and others like me.
See also: prepare, way

prepare the ground

if you prepare the ground for an activity or a situation, you do something that will help it to happen (usually + for ) The leaders of both countries are preparing the ground for negotiations which may lead to peace.
See also: ground, prepare

be prepared

To be willing (to do something): I am not prepared to defend him when I know he was wrong.
See also: prepare