The starting point of strife is like letting water flow freely,
so abandon the dispute before it breaks out. Bible

“letting water flow freely.” The reference is to breaching a dam or anything else that retains a lot of water. Once the water starts flowing, it is difficult or impossible to stop, and the break usually becomes worse and worse, allowing more and more water to flow. Some versions go with the meaning of the verse, and say, “The beginning of strife is like breaching a dam” or something similar.

Commentary for: Proverbs 17:14