if it’s not one thing, it’s the other
also if it’s not one thing, it’s another or it’s one thing after another
- everything is going wrong
- bad things keep happening
- face many problems in succession
- It’s such a bad day today. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other!
- I lost my wallet yesterday. At the moment, if it’s not one thing, it’s the other.
- First I burnt my breakfast, then I crashed my car. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other right now.
- I’m going through a hard time nowadays. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other.
- First she lost her job, then her boyfriend left her. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other for her right now.
- He is going through difficult times these days. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other for him.
The origin of the idiom is not known.
add fuel to the flames
- an action, whether verbal or physical that makes a bad situation even worse
- cause circumstances or dispute to become further excessive
aggravate, worsen, exacerbate
- The presidential candidate’s provocative speech in these violent times is only going to add fuel to the flames.
- At the time when both the friends are not on the talking terms, please do not add fuel to the flames by pitting them against each other.
- The administration has imposed the curfew in the city. Organizing a rally in such situation will only add fuel to the flames.
- Arresting the communal leader in such a tense situation will only add fuel to the flames.
- At the time she doubted him of cheating on her, seeing him with another girl only added fuel to the flames.
- His parents were already angry when he flunked the class. When they saw him drunk, it only added fuel to the flames.
This phrase is used by people to describe a situation when matter is been made worse deliberately by somebody.
People probably started to use given phrase metaphorically, observing the fact that addition of fuel, like petrol or wood, to already burning fire will make it burn more furiously.
in deep water
Meaning: in difficulty, in problem.
Example: I’m going to be in deep water if my boss refuses to approve the project done by me after the hard work of a week.
come to a head
Meaning: come to a crucial point; to come to a point when a problem must be solved.
Example: The battle between the two factions of the city’s leading sport club came to a head today.
sweep under the carpet or rug
Meaning: try to hide a problem or keep a problem secret instead of dealing with it.
Example: The administration team of the town attempts to sweep the scandal under the carpet were not very successful.
a can of worms
- to get into something that is messy, has problems and is unwanted
- something that is complicated and involves a lot of hassle (to do)
- The can of worms was wide open when he asked her about her past.
- I am not opening a can of worms by answering that question.
- To get into that discussion would mean to open a can of worms.
- The family has many can of worms so it is best to not ask them any personal questions.
- The death of the rich man opened a can of worms which was difficult for the police to sort out.
- The doctor had to go through a can of worms to figure out a diagnosis for his problem because he had many complications.
- To sell that house would mean that I would have to speak with my brother and I am not about to open that can of worms.
- Maurice opened a can of worms when she spoke more about her career choices.
- No one wanted to be the part of that project, realising that it was a can of worms.
The origin of this phrase is from the 1950’s found in Edwardsville Intelligencer, published in the United States. It is a writing cliché but has got popularity is verbal communication also.