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the best-laid schemes

Said when something ends poorly or differently than expected, despite preparations for success. It is an abbreviated version of the line, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley" (go astray), from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse," which itself is a play on the 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 schemes 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 schemes, I suppose."
See also: scheme

the best-laid schemes go astray

Said when things that are well prepared for or seem certain end poorly or differently from how one intends. It is an abbreviated version of the line, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley" (go astray), from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse," which itself is a play on the 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 schemes 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 schemes go astray, I suppose."
See also: astray, scheme

the best-laid schemes of mice and men

Said when something ends poorly or differently than expected, despite preparations for success. It is an abbreviated version of the line, "The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft a-gley" (go astray), from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse," which itself is a play on the 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 schemes 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 schemes of mice and men, I suppose."
See also: and, men, mice, of, scheme

grand scheme

The long term; the complete picture of something. Typically used in the phrase "in the grand scheme of things." I know you're worried about getting a bad grade on this test, but you're such a great student that I doubt it will matter in the grand scheme of things.
See also: grand, scheme

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

scheme against someone or something

to plot or conspire against someone or something. A group of generals was plotting against the government. They schemed against the king until he caught them and put an end to it.
See also: scheme

scheme for something

to plot and plan for something, perhaps using deception. She is scheming for a raise. Ted is always scheming for a way to miss work.
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in the scheme of things

in a general view of the situation She just got here and hasn't figured out where she belongs in the scheme of things.
Usage notes: often used with the adjectives grand, larger, or overall, usually to suggest that something is not very important: A two-week delay will not matter in the overall scheme of things.
See also: of, scheme, thing

in the grand/great scheme of things

if you say that in the grand scheme of things something is not important, you mean that it is not important when compared to much more serious things In the grand scheme of things, whether another actress has her navel pierced is not really that significant.
See also: grand, of, scheme, thing

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