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English Idioms and Idiomatic Expressions 


from:   'where the shoe pinches'   to:  'thorny issue'

  • where the shoe pinches
    • When people talk about 'where the shoe pinches', they are referring to an area that is often a source of problems or difficulties.
      "She's sure the public transport system works perfectly, but she'll find out where the shoe pinches when she starts using it!"

  • a shoulder to cry on
    • If you need 'a shoulder to cry on', you need to talk to someone who will listen to your problems and give sympathy and support when you are upset.
      "You can call me any time if you need a shoulder to cry on."

  • put a spanner in the works / throw a monkey wrench
    • To put a spanner in the works (or throw a (monkey) wrench) means to cause problems and prevent something from happening as planned.
      "A new motorway was planned but a group of ecologists managed to put a spanner in the works."

  • spell trouble
    • If something spells trouble, it signifies possible problems in the future.
      "The prolonged cold weather spells trouble for this year's harvest."

  • spiral out of control
    • When difficulties or costs spiral out of control, they get worse or increase continuously, creating a situation that becomes difficult to manage.
      "Some items were expensive but we were careful not to let the costs spiral out of control."

  • on a sticky wicket
    • If you find yourself on a sticky wicket, you are in a situation that is difficult to deal with.
      "They've refused to sign the contract so we're on a sticky wicket now!"

  • stir up a hornet's nest
    • If you stir up a hornet's nest, you do something which causes a commotion and provokes criticism and anger.
      "His letter to the Board stirred up a real hornet's nest."

  • stop the rot
    • When you prevent a situation from deteriorating, especially in business or politics, you stop the rot.
      "There was so much conflict in the office that a new manager was appointed to stop the rot."

  • a stumbling block
    • A problem or obstacle that prevents you from achieving something is a stumbling block.
      "My father adapted quite well but the language was always a stumbling block for my mother."

  • take the bull by the horns
    • To take the bull by the horns means that a person decides to act decisively in order to deal with a difficult situation or problem.
      "When the argument turned into a fight, the bar owner took the bull by the horns and called the police."

  • take the easy way out
    • If you take the easy way out, you choose the easiest way to deal with a difficult situation, even if it is not the best solution.
      "The weather conditions were so bad that Mary took the easy way out and cancelled her appointment."

  • tar baby
    • This term refers to a sticky situation or problem for which it is virtually impossible to find a solution.
      "He was advised not to get involved in the controversy which was considered a 'tar-baby' issue."

  • teething problems
    • The difficulties encountered during the initial stage of an activity or project are called teething problems.
      "We had some teething problems when we first opened the bookshop, but now everything is okay."

  • a thorny issue
    • If you are faced with a thorny issue, you have to deal with a difficult or unpleasant problem.
      "Copyright and content duplication are thorny issues these days."

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