a camel's nose (under the tent)

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a camel's nose (under the tent)

A small, seemingly innocuous act or decision that will lead to much larger, more serious, and less desirable consequences down the line. The term refers to an alleged Arab proverb that if a camel is allowed to get its nose inside of a tent, it will be impossible to prevent the rest of it from entering. Some regard legalizing same-sex marriage as a camel's nose under the tent, eventually leading to the destruction of marriage altogether. Not hiring an exterminator at the first sign of termites has proved to be a camel's nose, as much of our woodwork is now destroyed.
See also: nose
References in periodicals archive ?
With doubts entering the mind like a camel's nose under a tent, it isn't long before the kind-hearted person abandons his moral beliefs and says to himself: "Who am I to interfere with a homosexual's happiness?
6 as a camel's nose under the tent, possibly leading to regulation of perhaps veal or other animals,'' said Sheila Massey, director of government affairs for the association.