10 Idioms for Difficult Situations

Writing 101

Life is not a bed of roses. We have our moments of success and failure, of delight and despair, and of satisfaction and disappointment. If you are an ardent learner of English, you can turn even moments of personal or professional difficulties into opportunities to explore the subtleties of the language. Here we look at 10 idioms to use in moments of problems and difficulties:


10. Catch-22

Meaning: A problem or a situation in which the desired outcome is impossible to achieve owing to contradictory or illogical rules, regulations, or conditions.

Example: The company had a cost-cutting plan that was a Catch-22- they wanted to reduce the number of employees to keep it afloat but also would not have enough manpower to complete the projects.


9. Dodged a bullet

Meaning: To narrowly avoid something or some situation that could be undesirable and have potentially disastrous consequences.

Example: Shikha dodged a bullet when her engagement was called off, as she found out later that the prospective groom was arrested for domestic violence.


8. At Your Wits’ End

Meaning: When someone has exhausted their ideas and mental resources, and they are extremely frustrated and annoyed that they don’t know what to do next.

Example: Firoz was at his wits’ end trying to think of ways to amuse the kids.


7. The Crux of the Matter

Meaning: The basic, central, or critical point of an issue.

Example: The crux of the matter in the murder case were the few strands of hair found near the carpet.


6. Grasping at Straws

Meaning: When you are totally desperate and you pursue every hope or possibility even if the likelihood of working is nearly negligible.

Example: After being soundly defeated in the argument, the conservative commentator started grasping at straws for a semblance of victory.


5. In Dire Straits

Meaning: In a very bad or serious situation

Example: After being caught with drugs at school, Hemant was in dire straits over what awaited him at home.


4. Last Resort

Meaning: An option that you as a last chance when there are no other options available.

Example: When the group of hitchhikers could not find any hotel for their stay, as a last resort they decided to pitch their tent in the woods.


3. You’ve got your work cut out for you

Meaning: When a very large and difficult task lies ahead of you

Example: Mohan planned to complete dual post-graduation courses in the same year. He had his work cut out for him.


2. A Vicious Cycle

Meaning: When one problem causes another problem, which leads to another problem, which in turn leads to the first problem

Example: The vicious cycle of poverty is an issue of great concern in India.


1. The Tip of the Iceberg

Meaning: Only a small part of the problem; the biggest part of the problem is hidden

Example: The accounting fraud was just the tip of the iceberg of a massive financial scandal in the company.





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