Posted by Armorel on May 05, 2002
In Reply to: A cat among pigeons posted by joel on May 05, 2002
: The metaphoric phrase "a cat among pigeons" refers to an undesirable person from the standpoint of a group. I wonder about similar phrases, but perhaps ones that don't imply the element of aggression (cat vs. pigeon). Does anyone have a phrase or phrases that mean the same thing without a 'power differential' being the key element in the undesirability?
"Gooseberry" would be one - although that refers only to the unwanted third person hanging around a couple.
Germans have the rather nice phrase "das fünfte Rad am Wagen" (the fifth wheel on the car). But both of these raise the question of why the extra person is "undesirable" - situations where the person is simply spare, in the way, or not pulling their weight would need a different descriptive phrase from one where the person is causing trouble in some sort of way.