you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink


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Related to you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink: you can take a horse to water but you can't make him drink

you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink

You can give someone an advantage or provide them with an opportunity, but you can't force them to do something if they don't want to. A: "I just don't understand. We've given him the very best education and introduced him to the right people, but he just won't pursue a meaningful career." B: "Well, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink."
See also: but, can, drink, horse, lead, make

you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink

or

you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink

If you say you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink or make it drink, you mean that you can give someone the opportunity to do something, but you cannot force them to do it if they do not want to. A lot of lives could be saved by using the right equipment. However, as the following data show, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink: Hard hats were worn by only 16 percent of those workers who sustained head injuries, although 40 percent were required to wear them. Note: This expression is often varied. You can lead a boy to books, but can you make him read?
See also: but, can, drink, horse, lead, make, water

you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink

You can create favorable circumstances for a person to do something but cannot force him or her to do it. This metaphor was already being used in the twelfth century, when horses were a principal mode of transport, and appeared in John Heywood’s proverb collection of 1546. Several eighteenth- and nineteenth-century writers rang changes on it, mainly by increasing the second “you” to a large number. Samuel Johnson wrote “twenty cannot make him drink” (1763); Anthony Trollope made it “a thousand” (1857). In the twentieth century, keen-witted Dorothy Parker, in a speech before the American Horticultural Society, quipped, “You can lead a whore to culture but you can’t make her think.”
See also: but, can, drink, horse, lead, make, water
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