If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it is a phrase that means if something is functioning properly, it’s probably best to just leave it alone and not make any changes that could potentially break it.
The Origin Of “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”
Bert Lance is credited as the one who popularized this phrase. He worked for President Jimmy Carter as Director of the Office of Management and Budget in the year 1977. Lance was quoted as saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” in the May 1977 issue of a magazine called Nation’s Business. Of note, the expression does show up in print a few years before that. For example, it is found in the Hamburg Reporter newspaper, 1973, in an advertisement for food:
“Murph sez: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
The quote above is the earliest example of this phrase in print (that I’ve seen, anyway). Interestingly, I could not find the phrase in print from before the 1970s, so that might suggest it originated around that time.
Here is an example of this expression used in a sentence:
“Hey, Jim. For summer, I’m planning to replace every sprinkler on my front lawn. What do you think?”
“The sprinklers you have already do a fine job at watering your lawn. I say if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”