cup of tea
T-learning!
Guess what this idiom means

a can of worms

Choose the correct definition a, b or c.

a) a straightforward situation

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b) a secret

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c) a complicated situation

Well done ! That’s the right answer.

“A can of worms” is a situation or issue that becomes even more complicated as you try to deal with it.

Metaphorically speaking, if you “open a can of worms”, you examine or attempt to solve a problem, only to inadvertently complicate it and create even more trouble.

French translation

un sac de nœuds

How NOT to translate : *une boîte de vers
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Examples in the press

Museum bill would open can of worms

"The Greek government’s intention to transform the country’s five most important museums – the National Archaeological Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum in Athens, the Archaeological Museum of Thessaloniki, the Museum of Byzantine Culture in Thessaloniki, and the Archaeological Museum of Iraklio – from organic units of the Archaeological Service into legal entities under public law is well known.

This is supposed to give the museums autonomy and free them from bureaucratic entanglements ; with boards of directors consisting of leading figures they will easily secure donations and sponsorships. What has been leaked about the bill justifies the concern that it opens a can of worms."

Institute for Advanced Study, 9 Sept. 2022

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Everyday usage

Corruption is a serious problem, but nobody has yet been willing to open up that can of worms.

Our manager is reluctant to change the policy now because she doesn’t want to open a can of worms.

29 Sept. 2022


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