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fly in the ointment

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A drawback, especially one that was not at first apparent: “Sharon's lack of experience turned out to be the fly in the ointment when she applied for the job.”

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Words nearby fly in the ointment

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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Idioms and Phrases with fly in the ointment

fly in the ointment

A drawback or detrimental factor. For example, The new library is wonderful but there's a fly in the ointment: their catalog isn't complete yet. This term probably alludes to a biblical proverb (Ecclesiastes 10:1): “Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour.” [c. 1600]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
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