English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions
Problems - Difficulties
This expression refers to a vulnerable area
or a weak spot, in an otherwise strong
situation, that could cause one's downfall
He's extremely intelligent, but his inability to speak in public is his Achilles heel.
|alarm bells ringing||
If something sets the alarm bells
ringing, it makes you begin to worry,
because it shows that there may be a
Alarm bells started to ring when my old neighbour didn't open his shutters all day and didn't answer his phone.
|asking for trouble||Someone who is
asking for trouble is behaving so
stupidly that he/she is likely to have
Driving fast on these roads is really asking for trouble!
|back to the wall||If you have your back to the wall,
you are in serious difficulty.
With his back to the wall, the supplier had to accept the deal.
|ball and chain||This term refers to
a burden or problem that ties you down and
prevents you from doing what you want. It
can also refer to one's spouse.
Our holiday home has become a ball and chain - it's too much work!
|bane of one's life||To say that something is the
bane of your life means that it is
the cause of your problems or your
The heating system is always breaking down. It's the bane of my life!
|bite off more than you can chew||If you bite off more than you can
chew, you try to do something that is
too difficult for you, or more than you can
As soon as I started to translate the report, I realized that I had bitten off more than I could chew.
|on the blink||If a machine is
on the blink, it is not working
properly and needs servicing or repair.
What a nuisance! The photocopier is on the blink again.
|break the back of the beast||If someone
breaks the back of the beast, they
succeed in overcoming a major difficulty.
After hours of effort, the technicians finally broke the back of the beast and turned the electricity back on again.
|can of worms||To describe a situation as a can of
worms means that it is complicated,
unpleasant and difficult to deal with.
The discovery of the transfer of funds turned out to be a real can of worms.
|carry the can||If you carry the can for
another person, you accept blame or take
responsibility for something that goes
wrong, even if it is not your fault or only
The author didn't turn up for the interview and his agent had to carry the can.
catch 22 situation refers to a
frustrating situation where you cannot do
one thing without doing a second, and you
cannot do the second before doing the first.
I can't get a job without a work permit, and I can't get a work permit without a job. It's a catch 22 situation!
|chill wind||If you face or feel the chill wind
of something, you are beginning to encounter
the problems or trouble it causes.
Many building companies are facing the chill wind of the recession.
Alphabetical lists :