View synonyms for time bomb

time bomb


  1. a bomb constructed so as to explode at a certain time.
  2. a situation, condition, etc., resembling such a bomb in having disastrous consequences in the future.

time bomb


  1. a bomb containing a timing mechanism that determines the time at which it will detonate
  2. a situation which, if allowed to continue, will develop into a serious problem

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Word History and Origins

Origin of time bomb1

First recorded in 1890–95

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Idioms and Phrases

A situation that threatens to have disastrous consequences at some future time, as in That departmental dispute is a time bomb just waiting to go off . This term alludes to an explosive device that is set to go off at a specific time. [First half of 1900s]

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Example Sentences

That’s the only way to defuse the ticking time bomb that is Nigeria before it explodes on all of us.

From Ozy

This image feeds into fears of crime, violence and social unrest in which people who are jobless are cast as a “ticking time bomb” that poses a threat to a country’s stability.

From Quartz

Here’s How to End itBut the conflict in Yemen also helps explain why so little has been done to address the ticking time bomb on its shores.

From Time

Inside was a time bomb set to explode in 15 minutes, Widmer wrote.

Kushel said that the the realities and risks associated with a large-scale shelter amounted to a ticking time bomb, even with commendable efforts to protect Convention Center residents.

So that was just a ticking time bomb until the Germans had to do something.

A case could be made that Bynes was, in effect, a ticking time bomb.

But in the background, a separate time-bomb is ticking for Israel.

“This is a time bomb which preoccupies us most,” he told a panel at Davos.

Some officials in China do recognize that Tibet is a time bomb waiting to explode.

"According to the time-bomb down below," repeated Mr. Conne, still sociably but with a keen, searching look.

It would be just like you to have set a time bomb somewhere in this submarine to blow her up after you were all safely out of her.

Despite his liking for Prochaska, Crag couldn't forget that he had failed to find the time bomb in a panel he had twice searched.

Look at them now—the missile attack on the Aztec, the time bomb plant, the way they operate their networks right in our midst.

Privately, he had decided that no man would be left alone until the mystery of the time bomb was cleared up.


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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




time-bindingtime capsule