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Out of the frying pan, into the fire

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Going from a bad situation to one that is even worse.

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notes for Out of the frying pan, into the fire

This saying often refers to the necessity of making a choice between equally difficult options.
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.

BEHIND THE PHRASE

What does out of the frying pan, into the fire mean?

Out of the frying pan, into the fire is a phrase that means to go from a bad situation to a situation that is even worse.

Out of the frying pan, into the fire often follows the two situations that a person has been in, as in I managed to escape the dog but ran into a bear, so it was out of the frying pan, into the fire.

You may also use this phrase to compare a bad choice with one that is slightly or much worse, as in I can lie to my daughter or tell her the truth and break her heart, which is out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Sometimes, this phrase is said as out of the frying pan and into the fire, as in We moved out of a house infested with ants into one infested with rats, so we went out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Example: Although Jonas paid off his debts, he now can’t afford food, so he’s out of the frying pan, into the fire.

Where does out of the frying pan, into the fire come from?

The first records of the phrase out of the frying pan, into the fire come from 1528. One of the earliest known uses may be from Sir Thomas More in A Dialogue Concerning Heresies, first published in 1529.

The expression uses straightforward imagery. Slowly burning in a frying pan is slightly less bad than burning quickly in the fire below the pan. By jumping out of the frying pan, you avoided one bad fate only to have to deal with a much worse one as you drop into the fire.

The expression out of the frying pan, into the fire is a proverb in many languages. It may even go as far back as ancient Greece, because this idea of going from a bad situation to a worse one was captured in Aesop’s  “The Stag and the Lion” fable.

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What are some other forms related to out of the frying pan, into the fire?

  • out of the frying pan and into the fire

What are some synonyms for out of the frying pan, into the fire?

What are some words that share a root or word element with out of the frying pan, into the fire? 

What are some words that often get used in discussing out of the frying pan, into the fire?

How is out of the frying pan, into the fire used in real life?

Out of the frying pan, into the fire is a phrase commonly used when a person leaves a bad situation only to find themselves in a worse one.

Try using out of the frying pan, into the fire!

True or False?

You would use out of the frying pan, into the fire when you go from a bad situation to a good one.

How to use Out of the frying pan, into the fire in a sentence

Other Idioms and Phrases with Out of the frying pan, into the fire

out of the frying pan into the fire

From a bad situation to one that is much worse. For example, After Karen quit the first law firm she went to one with even longer hours—out of the frying pan into the fire. This expression, a proverb in many languages, was first recorded in English in 1528.

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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