‘to have a tiger by the tail’: meaning and origin

UK, 1826—to find oneself in a situation that has turned out to be difficult to control but cannot be got out of—the image is that someone holding a tiger by the tail can neither keep hold of it nor let go of it with safety

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‘the patter of tiny feet’: meanings and origin

1842—The noun ‘patter’ denotes the sound of light footfall, and the phrase ‘the patter of tiny feet’, and its variants, denote the presence of one or several young children, or the imminent birth of a child.

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‘Mexican standoff’: meaning and origin

a situation in which neither side in an argument or contest can win—in early use: a situation in which a person loses their money, but saves their life—origin: an 1876 story in which a Mexican bandit robs a traveller from the USA, but lets him escape with his life

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