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defuse (something)

To settle, calm, or make less dangerous an extremely tense, hostile, or volatile situation. Likened to removing the fuse from or otherwise disabling a bomb. The shouting match between the two employees was getting increasingly aggressive, so the boss was brought in to defuse the situation. A special United Nations envoy was sent to defuse the conflict between the warring sects.

be in a sticky situation

To be in the midst of or dealing with a particularly awkward, embarrassing, precarious, or difficult situation or circumstance. I knew I was in a sticky situation when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the movies. I'll be in quite a sticky situation if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: situation, sticky

in a sticky situation

In the midst of a particularly awkward, embarrassing, precarious, or difficult situation or circumstance. I found myself in a bit of a sticky situation when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the movies. I'll be in quite a sticky situation if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: situation, sticky

a sticky situation

A particularly awkward, embarrassing, precarious, or difficult situation or circumstance. Primarily heard in UK, Australia. I found myself in a bit of a sticky situation when the boss saw me kissing his daughter at the movies. I'll be in quite a sticky situation if I arrive at the train station and don't have enough money for the tickets!
See also: situation, sticky

wangle (one's) way into (some place or some situation)

To succeed in entering some location or situation by tricky, clever, or persuasive means. I didn't think we'd be able to do it, but after Rajesh talked to the bouncer, we were able to wangle our way into the night club. I've been trying to wangle my way into the honors course at Harvard all year, but so far, nothing has helped.
See also: place, wangle, way

wangle (one) into (some place or some situation)

To succeed in getting someone into some location or situation by tricky, clever, or persuasive means. It turned out that Rajesh knew the bouncer at the club, so he was able to wangle us into the place even though we weren't on the guest list. I don't know how I let Jeff wangle me into looking after his dogs this weekend—I don't even like dogs!
See also: place, wangle

a chicken and egg situation/problem

A situation in which it is unknown what happened, or what needs to happen, first. You need experience to get a job, but you need a job to get experience. It's a chicken and egg situation.

no-win situation

A problem that has no ideal solution. In this day and age, most political candidates find themselves in a no-win situation when it comes to pleasing all of their constituents. If I leave for work now, I'm going to be stuck sitting in traffic, and if I wait until the traffic clears, I'm going to be late. It's a no-win situation.
See also: situation

make the best of a bad situation

To deal with and create the best possible outcome of a bad, unfortunate, or unpleasant situation or set of circumstances. I know this data entry job isn't what you wanted for a career, but for the time being try and make the best of a bad situation. We weren't expecting to have to share our timeshare with others, but there's nothing we can do about it now, so we'd better make the best of a bad situation.
See also: bad, make, of, situation


1. A problem, task, situation, or course of action in which the outcome or solution one desires is especially difficult or impossible to achieve due to contradictory, illogical, or paradoxical rules, regulations, or conditions. The term comes from the title of the 1961 novel by Joseph Heller, in which a fighter pilot attempts to avoid further combat missions under a statute stating that any pilot who willingly continues to fly missions is insane. However, he is thwarted by the pronouncement that if a pilot requests to stop flying, he proves his sanity by showing a concern for his own safety. The company's cost-reduction plan is a Catch-22—they need to lay off half the staff to keep the company open, but with so few people, we won't be able to complete all the work that's needed to earn enough revenue.
2. Any illogical, contradictory, or paradoxical rule or regulation, especially one that makes a desired outcome or solution impossible. The bank's overdraft policy is a Catch-22 for those trying to get out of poverty, as it charges you higher fees for having less money in your account.

no-win situation

a situation where there is no correct or satisfactory solution. The general was too weak to fight and too proud to surrender. It was a no-win situation. The huge dog my father gave us as a gift eats too much. If we get rid of the dog, my father will be insulted. If we keep it, we will go broke buying food for it. This is a classic no-win situation.
See also: situation

reality of the situation

the truth or actuality of the situation; the way the situation really is. The reality of the situation is that we must act right now. Let's face the reality of the situation and go out and get jobs so we can pay our bills.
See also: of, reality, situation


A no-win dilemma or paradox, similar to damned if I do, damned if I don't. For example, You can't get a job without experience, but you can't get experience unless you have a job-it's Catch-22 . The term gained currency as the title of a 1961 war novel by Joseph Heller, who referred to an Air Force rule whereby a pilot continuing to fly combat missions without asking for relief is regarded as insane, but is considered sane enough to continue flying if he does make such a request.

no-win situation

A situation certain to end in failure or disappointment, as in If the in-laws visit them or they visit the in-laws, either way they see it as a no-win situation . [c. 1960]
See also: situation

a catch-22 situation

a dilemma or difficulty from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.
The classic statement of this situation is in Joseph Heller 's novel Catch-22 ( 1961 ), from which the expression is taken: ‘Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn't, but if he was sane he had to fly them. if he flew them he was crazy and didn't have to; but if he didn't want to he was sane and had to.’
1997 New Scientist It's a catch-22 situation: you cannot get the job without having the relevant experience and you cannot get the experience without having first done the job.
See also: situation

(a) catch-22


a catch-22 situation

(informal) a difficult situation from which there is no escape because you need to do one thing before doing a second, and you cannot do the second thing before doing the first: I can’t get a job because I haven’t got any experience, but I can’t get experience until I get a job — it’s a catch-22 situation. Catch-22 is the title of a novel by Joseph Heller, in which the main character pretends to be crazy in order to avoid dangerous situations in war. The authorities say that he cannot be crazy if he is concerned about his own safety.

a ˌchicken-and-ˈegg situation

a situation in which you do not know which of two connected events is the cause of the other: Is she unhappy because she gets into debt, or does she get into debt because she’s unhappy? I suppose it’s a chicken-and-egg situation.This comes from the question ‘Which came first — the chicken or the egg?’.
See also: situation

save the ˈday/situˈation

do something that changes probable failure into success: Jones saved the day for England with a last-minute goal.
See also: save, situation


n. a directive that is impossible to obey without violating some other, equally important, directive. There was nothing I could do. It was a classic catch-22.

no-win situation

n. a situation in which there is no hope of success. I find myself in a no-win situation again.
See also: situation


n. an event, crime, or suspicious happening that warrants investigation or action by the police. (Law enforcement.) We have a situation out on 114 Maple Street. See the man.
References in periodicals archive ?
The spokesperson said that High Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein is seriously concerned about the human rights situation in occupied Kashmir, as well as the rising tensions between India and Pakistan.
And there will be those situations that the patient will be so out of control and is armed that there will be a deadly force situation.
You can protect yourself against the risks associated with these situations, but first you must understand what is and is not permissible.
The facts are the same as in Situation 2, except that a different value option is provided the employee.
Statements that are designed to help parents feel better, but that do not acknowledge the reality of the situation and do not respond to parents' real fears and concerns, do not reassure.
It is beyond the scope of this article to describe every kind of situation that may obligate the airline to compensate you.
Coping questions--When a camper (or group of campers) feels overwhelmed by a difficult situation, is feeling pessimistic about the outcome, or is experiencing feelings of powerlessness, it is important to acknowledge the reality of the difficulty as well as attempting to help him/her see what he/she is already doing to deal with and manage the problem.
Third down calls will obviously be colored if this is the situation as opposed to a situation where a field goal is needed.
In Situation 3, Trust's governing instrument states that if G is treated as the owner of any portion of Trust for any tax year, the trustee may, in the trustee's discretion, distribute to G for the tax year income or principal sufficient to satisfy G's personal income tax liability attributable to including all, or part, of Trust's income in G's taxable income.
Additionally, whether a person is objectively or subjectively self-aware, OSA theory contends that whatever is the focus of attention in any given situation will draw causal attributions (i.
The result is a fuller understanding of why an instance or situation occurred as it did, and what aspects to explore if similar situations occur in the future (Davey, 1991).
This knowledge and skill, however, does not necessarily transfer to the management of anxiety in the performance situation.
Adams accounts for this shift by providing a succinct yet incisive discussion of the social situation in Rome as one of conflict with outsiders.
Landlords and building managers relearned a valuable lesson on August 14, 2003: the importance of preparedness in an emergency situation.
Suddenly we are in the midst of a situation so far out of control, we have no way to deal with it.