Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
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.
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]
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.
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.
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.