hot potato

a hot potato


  • any subject which several folks are talking about and which is frequently argued
  • something that is hard or terrible to handle
  • a ​problem or ​situation that is ​difficult to ​deal with and ​causes a lot of ​disagreement
  • an issue or question about which people have different opinions and feel very strongly
  • a controversial situation that is awkward to deal with
  • a delicate or contentious matter which many people do not want to talk about

Example Sentences

  1. The issue of gun control is a political hot potato in the United States.
  2. The legality of abortion is a hot potato in many countries around the world.
  3. I never discuss about anyone's religion, it can be a hot potato.
  4. The party members are not speaking on this topic as it is a political hot potato.
  5. The government's decision to curb benefits to some sections of society is like a hot potato.


The term originated in the mid 1800s and is derived from the slightly older term "to drop like a hot potato", meaning "to abandon something or someone quickly". It alludes to the fact that cooked potatoes retain considerable heat because they contain a lot of water.

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H 12 Thoughts

Contribution & Thoughts 12

It did not tell me where it originated but it was helpful in other ways

- Plop January 29, 2019

Awesome idioms for my project.

- Raghav May 28, 2018

Excellent idioms and meaningful they completed my project

- Raghav Garg May 28, 2018

This was helpful for my project.
Thank your for your help.

- Mishti Bose May 24, 2018

You did a great job, which is really helpful for others.I hope you will not mind if tell you a new word. In your above examples, you wrote discuss about, but we never use discuss about.
Discuss = Talk about
Discuss about = Talk about about
So we can simply say discuss or we can say talk about.

- Sahina March 26, 2018

Hello Manal,
More formal ways of saying: It’s a hot potato, are:

  • It’s a controversial subject.
  • It’s a sensitive subject.
  • It’s likely to cause disagreement.
  • It could upset people.
  • It’s risky for everyone involved.

- Fiona Mackenzie December 18, 2017

Is there is any other idiom that is equal to the meaning of hot potato but formal?

- Manal December 18, 2017

This was very helpful for my project.

- Carson November 7, 2017

Hmm…. Ram Rahim topic is really like a hot potato in India.

- Swati September 25, 2017

Could I say ” no way, I won’t talk to the boss about the pay rise; are you trying to pass me the hot potato?

- Chris September 24, 2017

Grateful of you.

- Khushi September 20, 2017

Hi this was really helpful.

- Mercy September 19, 2017

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