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Opening a can of worms

Posted by ESC on June 07, 2000

In Reply to: Worms posted by Abby on June 07, 2000

: What does 'A can of worms' mean? It was not on the meanings of phrases list???????

CAN OF WORMS - "It's like opening a can of worms. This is a highly problematical situation or complex problem. Broaching it may lead to utter chaos. The saying originated in the United States in the mid-twentieth century and refers to the live bait kept in jars or other containers by fishermen." From the "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings" by Gregory Y. Titelman (Random House, New York, 1996).

"can of worms. 'Don't try to pass me that can of worms' has been a staple item in the jargon of advertising agency types for decades. The meaning is clear: don't try to fob off a complicated, perplexing problem on me." From the "Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins" by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, 1977, 1978).