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English Idioms & Idiomatic Expressions


Problems - Difficulties

(page 5 : where shoe pinches →  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!
put a spanner in the works 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.
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.
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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