spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar
do not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar
proverb Do not ruin something simply to avoid some minor difficulty, inconvenience, or expense. "Ship" is thought to be a dialectical pronunciation of "sheep," and a "ha'porth" is a "halfpennyworth." Tar was used to protect sheep skin from flies (and thereby illness and death), so not having enough tar would contribute to the death of the sheep. You know your mom is going to be offended, so please call her before the dinner party—do not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tarrisk the failure of a large enterprise by trying to economize on trivial things.
The expression originally referred to the use of tar to keep flies off sores on sheep (ship represented a dialectal pronunciation of sheep ). Ha'p'orth is a contraction of halfpennyworth .
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017