a powder keg

a powder keg

a situation that could suddenly become extremely dangerous
Usage notes: A powder keg was a wooden container for gunpowder (= a substance used for making explosions).
We left just before the revolution, realizing that we were sitting on a powder keg.
See also: keg, powder
References in periodicals archive ?
Perhaps it's a symptom of the recent spats between the clubs - people are terrified of pouring petrol onto a powder keg - but can't we be just a bit more mature about this?
Hooligan expert John Williams, of Leicester University, said the number of fans in Manchester created a powder keg and it exploded after the TV glitch.
Murder, kidnapping and drag trafficking are just some of the problems they face in what remains a powder keg of a society.
If I had thought it was a powder keg I would have described it as a powder keg.
You were sitting on a powder keg," said the family's solicitor John Mackenzie.
Anywhere there is 60 percent unemployment, there is a powder keg, and no one should be surprised when it explodes.
A jail is a powder keg full of violent people that will blow up occasionally in violence.
Prison officers fear they are sitting on a powder keg of suspicion after stepping up their action in a meal breaks dispute.
The Middle East, a powder keg for generations, seems, as of this writing, to be into a downward spiral that will maintain this volatility for yet another generation.
This deal is likely to trigger an arms race in the region, which is already sitting on a powder keg.
The danger for Britain is that it will set off a powder keg which will go up like a bomb.
Summary: One can easily come up with all of the standard descriptions for what Lebanon is experiencing today: a time bomb, on the brink, sitting on a powder keg, etc.
The attack on Ian Huntley comes just a week after three prison officers were injured and it is absolutely clear the union's claim it is a powder keg is justified.
A masked vigilante known only as "V" (Hugo Weaving) promises to succeed where Guy Fawkes failed by lighting a powder keg underneath Parliament one year hence.
The solicitor acting for the families of the soldiers, John Mackenzie, [ok] told him: "You were sitting on a powder keg.