The best laid schemes of mice and men
What's the meaning of the phrase 'The best laid schemes of mice and men'?
The most carefully prepared plans may go wrong.
What's the origin of the phrase 'The best laid schemes of mice and men'?
From Robert Burns' poem To a Mouse, 1786. It tells of how he, while ploughing a field, upturned a mouse's nest. The resulting poem is an apology to the mouse:
But, Mousie, thou art no thy lane [you aren't alone]
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft a-gley, [often go awry]
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promised joy.
The poem is of course the source for the title of John Steinbeck's 1937 novel - Of Mice and Men.
See also: the List of Proverbs.