tiger by the tail

Something too difficult to manage or cope with, as in You know nothing about the commodities market; you'll end up catching a tiger by the tail. This colorful metaphor conjures up the image of grabbing a powerful but fierce animal by the tail, only to have it turn on one. [Second half of 1900s]


Nearby words

  1. tig welding,
  2. tigard,
  3. tiger,
  4. tiger balm,
  5. tiger beetle,
  6. tiger cat,
  7. tiger economy,
  8. tiger kidnapping,
  9. tiger lily,
  10. tiger lizard

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