Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
open Pandora's box
Fig. to uncover a lot of unsuspected problems. When I asked Jane about her problems, I didn't know I had opened Pandora's box. You should be cautious with people who are upset. You don't want to open Pandora's box.
open (a) Pandora's box
to start something that causes many new and unexpected problems They worry that any decision they make about testing will open a Pandora's box. What kind of Pandora's box do we open if we decide not arrest people who have committed a crime?
Etymology: based on an old Greek story in which a woman named Pandora opened a box containing all the troubles the world has experienced
open a Pandora's box
to do something that causes a lot of new problems that you did not expect
Usage notes: In old Greek stories, Zeus (= the king of the gods) gave Pandora a box that he told her not to open, but she did open it and all the troubles in the world escaped from it.(often + of ) Sadly, his reforms opened a Pandora's box of domestic problems.
A source of unforeseen trouble, as in Revising the tax code is opening a Pandora's box. This equivalent for the modern can of worms comes from the Greek legend in which Pandora, entrusted with a box containing the world's ills, is overcome by curiosity and opens it, thereby releasing them. [Late 1500s]
See also: box
A receptacle of woes and evils. According to Greek legend, Pandora, the first woman on Earth, was given a jar (it became “box” in the phrase) that she was instructed never to open. Curiosity overcame her, however, and when she lifted the lid, all the evils of the world flew out, not unlike to Eve's eating the forbidden fruit. Someone who does something that leads to widespread disaster is said to have opened a Pandora's box.
See also: box