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1. The quality or condition of being unwise or indiscreet.
2. An unwise or indiscreet act.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




cast pearls before swine To offer something precious to those who are unable to appreciate its worth; to give a valuable gift to someone who responds by abusing or defiling it. The phrase, which derives from the Sermon on the Mount, is still current today.

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you. (Matthew 7:6)

put new wine in old bottles To take inappropriate action; to fail to make the measures fit the need; to impose greater stress than the recipient can bear. Though this expression most often refers to the imposition of newness or change where age will resist it, the phrase’s application is not restricted to contexts of time disparity. Old wineskins lack the extensibility of new and consequently burst under the pressure of fermentation. The wineskins of the original Biblical context in the course of time became bottles, to the detriment of the phrase’s clarity of meaning.

Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; if it is the skins burst, and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed: but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. (Matthew 9:17)

reckon without one’s host To act, plan, or conclude without adequate consideration of significant factors or circumstances; to fail to take into account the role of others, particularly those whose position would make their input determinative. The expression was originally literal; to reckon without one’s host was to calculate food or lodging expenses without first consulting the innkeeper. This early meaning, dating from the 17th century, has been totally lost in the now figurative one indicating shortsightedness, improvidence, or lack of foresight.

He reckoned strangely in this matter, without the murderous host into whose clutches he had fallen. (John A. Symonds, The Renaissance in Italy, 1886)

a rolling stone gathers no moss A proverb meaning that one with nomadic tendencies is unlikely to prosper. This expression, equivalents of which exist in numerous other cultures, was popularized in the English language following its use in Thomas Tusser’s Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie (1573). A stationary stone accumulates moss which protects it from erosion and weathering. Likewise, one who settles down is more likely to amass a fortune than one whose life is spent wandering from place to place. The expression maintains widespread usage today.

The sudden turning up of Jack as a roving brother, who, like a rolling stone, gathered no moss. (Sarah Tytler, Buried Diamonds, 1886)

send a sow to Minerva A proverb said of one who presumes to teach another, more learned person something that he already knows. This expression is derived from an ancient Latin adage, sus Minervam docet ‘a pig teaching Minerva,’ alluding to the inappropriateness of something as ignorant as a pig trying to instruct the goddess of wisdom.

In Latin they say sus Minervam when an unlearned dunce goeth about to teach his better or a more learned man, … or as we say in English, the foul sow teach the fair lady to spin. (Edward Topsell, The History of Four-Footed Beasts, 1607)

swap horses in midstream To change leaders during a crisis; to change the rules after the game has started; to change one’s approach, to alter one’s method at an unpropitious time. This Americanism is attributed to Abraham Lincoln. On June 9, 1864, after his renomination to the presidency, Lincoln delivered a speech in which he alluded to the fact that he was reelected even though many felt that he had mismanaged the War Between the States:

… they have concluded it is not best to swap horses while crossing the river, … I am not so poor a horse that they might not make a botch of it in trying to swap.

The expression nearly always appears as part of an admonition not to do so.

teach one’s grandmother to suck eggs A proverb, said of one who tries to teach or advise an older and more experienced person. This adage, similar in spirit to teach a bird to fly and teach a fish to swim, alludes to the inappropriateness of trying to teach a person something which he already knows. It is usually used in derisive reference to someone, particularly an adolescent, who is presumptuous enough to think that his new-found knowledge is so unique that his elders could not possibly be privy to it and so takes it upon himself to educate them. Specifically, this expression refers to the technique—usually passed from generation to generation—of sucking out the contents of an egg through a small hole in one end without breaking the shell, a skill important to one who wishes to decorate Easter eggs, for example. An anonymous English poem captures the sentiments of this ancient proverb:

Teach not a parent’s mother to extract
The embryo juices of an egg by suction:
The good old lady can the feat enact
Quite irrespective of your kind instruction.

Although the expression had fallen into disuse by the mid-1900s, it was revitalized in 1978 by its inclusion in one of the routines of comedian Steve Martin.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.imprudence - a lack of caution in practical affairs
incaution, incautiousness - the trait of forgetting or ignoring possible danger
rashness, heedlessness, mindlessness - the trait of acting rashly and without prudence
improvidence, shortsightedness - a lack of prudence and care by someone in the management of resources
prudence - discretion in practical affairs
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
عَدَم تَرَوٍّ أو فِطْنَه


[ɪmˈpruːdəns] Nimprudencia f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ɪmˈpruːdəns] nimprudence f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nUnklugheit f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ɪmˈpruːdns] nimprudenza
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(imˈpruːdənt) adjective
not having or showing good sense; unwise.
imˈprudently adverb
imˈprudence noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
He called out to a passing traveler for help, but instead of holding out a helping hand, the man stood by unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence. "Oh, sir!" cried the youth, "pray help me now and scold me afterwards."
"If that is called imprudence, I wonder what would be called a thoughtful provision against the vicissitudes of fortune."
One day he had the imprudence to recall himself to the memory of the cardinal.
But, before I say any thing else, let me entreat you, as the greatest favor you can do to your sister and your friend, not to enter into any disputes about me with Lady Lundie, and not to commit the imprudence--the useless imprudence, my love--of coming here." She stopped--the paper swam before her eyes.
She was vexed, too, that from all she could learn of this connection it was not that brilliant, graceful, worldly liaison which she would have welcomed, but a sort of Wertherish, desperate passion, so she was told, which might well lead him into imprudence. She had not seen him since his abrupt departure from Moscow, and she sent her elder son to bid him come to see her.
Lady Russell had not been arrived five minutes the day before, when a full account of the whole had burst on her; but still it must be talked of, she must make enquiries, she must regret the imprudence, lament the result, and Captain Wentworth's name must be mentioned by both.
My companion and I being undeceived by this terrible relation, thought it would be the highest imprudence to expose ourselves both together to a death almost certain and unprofitable, and agreed that I should go with our Abyssin and a Portuguese to observe the country; that if I should prove so happy as to escape being killed by the inhabitants, and to discover a way, I should either return, or send back the Abyssin or Portuguese.
"Oh, what imprudence, my lord," said D'Artagnan; "'tis not good to be about just here without a light.
When, however, the Columbiad was entirely finished, this state of closed doors could no longer be maintained; besides it would have been bad taste, and even imprudence, to affront the public feeling.
Before we attend him to this intended interview with the lady, we think proper to account for both the preceding notes, as the reader may possibly be not a little surprized at the imprudence of Lady Bellaston, in bringing her lover to the very house where her rival was lodged.
If you have been culpable, it was imprudence, and this imprudence was in obedience to the orders of your captain.
Dashwood which must generally have led to imprudence. She had an excellent heart;--her disposition was affectionate, and her feelings were strong; but she knew how to govern them: it was a knowledge which her mother had yet to learn; and which one of her sisters had resolved never to be taught.