hot potato

See synonyms for hot potato on
  1. Informal. a situation or issue that is difficult, unpleasant, or risky to deal with.

  2. British Informal. a baked potato.

Origin of hot potato

First recorded in 1840–50

Words Nearby hot potato Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use hot potato in a sentence

  • In that process, responsibility for the selection of Palin is the real hot potato.

  • Add an equal amount of freshly cooked hot potato that has been put through a potato ricer or mashed fine.

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 3 | Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences
  • He did not seem to know what to do with it, and shifted it from one hand to another as though it were a hot potato.

  • He took up the book; but seeing the owner suddenly appear, he dropped it like a hot potato.

  • She'd drop old Tippengray like a hot potato and stick to me like one of those adhesive plasters that have holes in them.

    The Squirrel Inn | Frank R. Stockton
  • He more than once went up to the fire for a hot potato, but each time the punch was offered him he wisely declined taking it.

    Ernest Bracebridge | William H. G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for hot potato

hot potato

  1. slang an awkward or delicate matter

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with hot potato

hot potato

A problem so controversial and sensitive that it is risky to deal with. For example, Gun control is a political hot potato. This term, dating from the mid-1800s, alludes to the only slightly older expression drop like a hot potato, meaning “to abandon something or someone quickly” (lest one be burned). The idiom alludes to the fact that cooked potatoes retain considerable heat because they contain a lot of water.

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