an accident/a disaster waiting to happen

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Also found in: Acronyms.

an accident waiting to happen

A person, thing, or situation that appears to be imminently dangerous or troublesome. Often but not always used somewhat humorously. Don't leave that ladder in the middle of the yard, it's just an accident waiting to happen! My toddler is starting to walk now, and she is just an accident waiting to happen.
See also: accident, happen, waiting

an accident waiting to happen

COMMON
1. If you describe a situation or activity as an accident waiting to happen, you mean that they are likely to be a cause of danger in the future. A lot of the city's buildings are accidents waiting to happen. The sudden explosion of a real bullet on stage during the play was an accident waiting to happen.
2. If you describe a person as an accident waiting to happen, you mean that they are likely to cause trouble or have bad problems. He was getting a reputation for being wild — an accident waiting to happen.
See also: accident, happen, waiting

an accident waiting to happen

1 a potentially disastrous situation, usually caused by negligent or faulty procedures. 2 a person certain to cause trouble.
1 1997 Times Accidents are often said to be ‘waiting to happen’. It does not take much imagination to see that the chaotic start to the Whitbread round-the-world race…could easily have ended in tragedy.
See also: accident, happen, waiting

an ˌaccident/a diˌsaster waiting to ˈhappen

a thing or person that is very likely to cause danger or a problem in the future because of the condition it is in or the way they behave: For many months local residents had been complaining that the building was unsafe, and that it was an accident waiting to happen.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Twilight Saga actress' fellow residents have alleged that the fire accident was tragic but it was a disaster waiting to happen, TMZ reported.
Others will say it was a disaster waiting to happen.
The McLaren duo have so far developed a solid relationship in the wake of Button's arrival to the team, despite many suggesting his move was a disaster waiting to happen.
While I agree that parents have been forced into this decision by the pointless measures put in place by the Health Ministry, these new arrangements are a disaster waiting to happen.
And further prosecution evidence relating to the system actually used by Agis on the day "only goes to reinforce the undoubted and incontrovertible fact that the anchorage system was inadequate and unsafe - a disaster waiting to happen," Mr Sloan alleged.
The box is a bit of a disaster waiting to happen, though, they could easily be spilt by small hands.
That cocked weapon in the hand of an officer who is not a "gun person" is a disaster waiting to happen.
This pile of tyres is a disaster waiting to happen," he said.
But horrified experts see a disaster waiting to happen.
It begins with grumpy insurance claims adjuster Gene (Alan Arkin) sitting in a New York bar, telling hot-shot lawyer Troy (Matthew McConaughey): 'Show me a happy man and I'll show you a disaster waiting to happen.
Without credible, consistent numbers your BI deployment is a disaster waiting to happen," said Rene Bonvanie, chief marketing officer at Business Objects.
Most of the other surgeries in Llyn/South Gwynedd face recruitment problems and are working short handed or will do so in the near future - it is a disaster waiting to happen.
It's a terrorist disaster waiting to happen," he added.
The call was echoed by Fire Brigade Union Secretary Les Skarrett who said: "It literally is a disaster waiting to happen.
Motorcycle use is associated with a higher risk of serious injury than car use, but what statistics will never tell you is whether that translates into a disaster waiting to happen for a particular individual.