If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It


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.

Example: Nora’s current diet has worked well for her over the years; however, she now wants to change it and she is worried about gaining weight because of it. So her friend advised: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

1. Don’t fix what’s not broken
2. Leave well enough alone

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. While he may have helped popularize the expression, it does not look like he coined it, because it shows up in print a few years earlier. 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, which might suggest it originated around that time.

Example Sentences

Here is an example of this expression 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.”

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