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can of worms

Informal. a source of many unpredictable or unexpected problems:
Buying a company we know nothing about would be opening up a whole new can of worms.
Origin of can of worms
First recorded in 1965-70 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Slang definitions & phrases for can of worms

can of worms

noun phrase

A complex and troublesome matter; a Pandora's box: Leave it alone, don't kick the crawly old can of worms/ the current bag of worms (1950s+)

Related Terms

open up a can of worms

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with can of worms

can of worms

A complex unexpected problem or unsolvable dilemma, as in Tackling the budget cuts is sure to open a can of worms. This expression alludes to a container of bait used for fishing, which when opened reveals an inextricable tangle of worms. [ 1920s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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