can of worms


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)

Example Sentences

  1. The can of worms was wide open when he asked her about her past.
  2. I am not opening a can of worms by answering that question.
  3. To get into that discussion would mean to open a can of worms.
  4. The family has many can of worms so it is best to not ask them any personal questions.
  5. The death of the rich man opened a can of worms which was difficult for the police to sort out.
  6. The doctor had to go through a can of worms to figure out a diagnosis for his problem because he had many complications.
  7. 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.
  8. Maurice opened a can of worms when she spoke more about her career choices.
  9. 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.


  • Pandora’s Box

Share your opinions1 Opinion

Good list of idioms and Bethany potsed a good l list of examples. I just thought I’d mention that the most common way people use #10 is by saying some variation of: If you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

‒ Scillia February 23, 2015

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