Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
open (a) Pandora's box
To begin or introduce something that leads to many other problems. A reference to the story from Greek mythology in which Pandora opens a box containing all the possible things that can affect humanity negatively. It seems like we've opened Pandora's box with this topic today. We've been getting hundreds of messages from listeners from around the country who have been affected by it. Trying to fix the bug opened a Pandora's box of other issues with the computer.
Something that, when interfered or engaged with, leads to many problems. A reference to the story from Greek mythology in which Pandora opens a box containing all the possible things that can affect humanity negatively. It seems like we've opened Pandora's box with this topic today. We've been getting hundreds of messages from listeners from around the country who have been affected by it. Trying to fix the bug opened a Pandora's box of other issues with the computer.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
open Pandora's box
Fig. to uncover a lot of unsuspected problems. When I asked Jane about her problems, I didn't know I had opened Pandora's box. You should be cautious with people who are upset. You don't want to open Pandora's box.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
A source of unforeseen trouble, as in Revising the tax code is opening a Pandora's box. This equivalent for the modern can of worms comes from the Greek legend in which Pandora, entrusted with a box containing the world's ills, is overcome by curiosity and opens it, thereby releasing them. [Late 1500s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
open a Pandora's box
COMMON If someone or something opens a Pandora's box, they do something that unintentionally causes a lot of problems, which were not known about before. The virus can throw the entire body out of balance and open a Pandora's box of health problems. An invasion of the country would open a Pandora's box which may be impossible to close. Note: You can also describe something as a Pandora's box to say that it may cause a lot of problems. The rapidly developing technology is seen by some as a Pandora's box, with almost as many problems as benefits. Note: According to Roman mythology, Prometheus offended the gods and in revenge Jupiter ordered the creation of Pandora, the first woman. Jupiter gave Pandora a box which she was to offer to the man she married. Pandora married Prometheus's brother Epimethius. He opened the box and all the problems and wickedness that now trouble the world flew out and could never be put back.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a Pandora's boxa process that once begun generates many complicated problems.
In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first mortal woman. One story recounts that she was created by Zeus and sent to earth with a box or jar of evils in revenge for the fact that Prometheus had disobediently given the gift of fire to the earth. She let all the evils out of the container to infect the earth; only hope remained to ease the lot of humankind. In another account, the box contained all the blessings of the gods which, with the exception of hope, escaped and were lost when the box was opened.
1997 Spectator Drummond's series…has opened a Pandora's box of complaints… about the tide of mediocrity engulfing the art.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
Pandora’s ˈboxa source of great trouble and suffering, although this may not be obvious at the beginning: The publication of her diaries opened up a real Pandora’s box.In Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on earth. The gods sent her to earth with a box that she was forbidden to open, but she opened it and all the evils flew out of it into the world.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
A receptacle of woes and evils. According to Greek legend, Pandora, the first woman on Earth, was given a jar (it became “box” in the phrase) that she was instructed never to open. Curiosity overcame her, however, and when she lifted the lid, all the evils of the world flew out, not unlike to Eve's eating the forbidden fruit. Someone who does something that leads to widespread disaster is said to have opened a Pandora's box.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price