What does "it does not pay" mean in this sentence?

Therefore, in spite of the fact that the basic question (“What is the force on Q due to q?”) is easy to state, it does not pay to confront it head on; rather, we shall go at it by stages.

I have done some search in internet, but didn't found whole phrase translation.

  • I edited your question to include the information from your comment and reopened it. Feel free to edit it if I haven't expressed your question correctly.
    – ColleenV
    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:20
  • "it does not pay {to do something}" means that doing {something} has some negative effect which is bad enough that {something} should not be done, and perhaps another approach should be taken. It doesn't pay to argue with your boss; even if you win the argument, you lose.
    – TimR
    Oct 20, 2017 at 11:21

1 Answer 1


It does not pay means that the outcome does not have a positive effect that outweighs what it takes to get there.

It is, essentially, the same thing as it isn't worth it

"Pay" refers to a positive reward or profit from doing "it", or in your example, "[Confronting] it head on" and that by "[going] at it by stages", greater benefits will be achieved.

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