Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
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!
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!
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!
wangle (one's) way into (someplace 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.
wangle someone into (someplace 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
a catch-22 situationa 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.
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 situationa 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?’.
save the ˈday/situˈationdo something that changes probable failure into success: Jones saved the day for England with a last-minute goal.
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.
n. a situation in which there is no hope of success. I find myself in a no-win situation again.
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.