a mare's nest

mare's nest

A difficult, complicated, or confusing situation. The tax laws in this country are a mare's nest that nobody fully understands.
See also: nest

a mare's nest

a wonderful discovery which proves or will prove to be illusory.
A mare's nest is here being used to symbolize something that does not exist, as horses do not make nests. The phrase is first recorded in the late 16th century, as is the variant a horse's nest , although the latter is now no longer in use.
See also: nest

a ˈmare’s nest


1 an idea or a discovery that seems interesting and exciting but is found to be false or have no value: I fancy this will prove to be a mare’s nest! We have had these mysteries before.
A mare is a female horse or donkey. They do not make nests and so a mare’s nest does not exist.

2 a difficult or complicated situation; a mess: This area of the law is a veritable mare’s nest.My hair is a mare’s nest!
See also: nest
References in classic literature ?
In my opinion the whole thing is a mare's nest of Bauerstein's
After that we really can't support Dubosc if his revelation is a mare's nest.
A robust fellow in A Mare's Nest, 2000, becomes queen, clown, and martyr, done up in an elaborate wig/halo and ruffled "collar," a collage of Lilliputian architectural renderings, corporate logos, flora and fauna, and the int ertwined limbs of tiny wrestlers and bodybuilders.