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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

in the (grand) scheme of things

In the long term; in the complete picture of something. 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: of, scheme, thing

in the great scheme of things

In the long term; in the complete picture of something. 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 great scheme of things.
See also: great, of, scheme, thing

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, oft, 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.
See also: scheme

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

in the scheme of things

COMMON People use in the scheme of things to describe how important one thing is when compared to everything else in a situation or how one thing relates to the other things in a situation. These aches and pains are annoying, but not very serious in the scheme of things. To enter into the adult world, we must have an understanding of our place in the scheme of things. Note: People often put words such as greater, grand or whole before scheme with the same meaning. In the grand scheme of things, Hertz was a small player.
See also: of, scheme, thing

the scheme of things

the organization of things in general; the way the world is.
See also: of, scheme, thing

the/somebody’s ˈscheme of things

the way the world and other things are or seem to be organized: Low-paid workers like us don’t have a very important place in the scheme of things.Don’t worry too much about your exam results; they’re not really important in the great scheme of things.
See also: of, scheme, thing
References in classic literature ?
They would pretend to eat their oats like the other horses, but we knew they were always scheming to get back at the loco.
When they had first been presented to each other, she was still under the influence of the meanest instincts in her scheming and selfish nature.
If any one comes between me and the things for which I am scheming to-day, they will risk death.
He told Amelia of what he had done, and how he had counselled Rawdon Crawley--a devilish good, straightforward fellow--to be on his guard against that little sly, scheming Rebecca.
The last particle of his nervous force had been expended in the wonders and agonies of this day full of surprising failures coming at the end of a harassing month of scheming and insomnia.
Now, Mrs Merdle, who really knew her friend Society pretty well, and who knew what Society's mothers were, and what Society's daughters were, and what Society's matrimonial market was, and how prices ruled in it, and what scheming and counter-scheming took place for the high buyers, and what bargaining and huckstering went on, thought in the depths of her capacious bosom that this was a sufficiently good catch.
You've been scheming and plotting away, every hour that I have laid shivering and burning here; and Bill was to do this; and Bill was to do that; and Bill was to do it all, dirt cheap, as soon as he got well: and was quite poor enough for your work.