a bull in a china shop

a bull in a china shop

Someone who is aggressively reckless and clumsy in a situation that requires delicacy and care. My son can be a bit of a bull in a china shop, so I'm worried about taking him to the museum. Surrounding him with valuables does not seem like a wise idea! This is a complex problem, and if you attack it like a bull in a china shop, you will alienate a lot of people. You can't just go into every meeting like a bull in a china shop—remember, tact will get you far in this business.
See also: bull, china, shop
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

*bull in a china shop

Prov. a very clumsy creature in a delicate situation. (*Typically: as awkward as ~; like ~.) I never know what to say at a funeral. I feel like a bull in a china shop, trampling on feelings without even meaning to. Lester felt like a bull in a china shop; reaching for an orange, he made several elaborate pyramids of fruit tumble down.
See also: bull, china, shop
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

bull in a china shop

An extremely clumsy person, as in Her living room, with its delicate furniture and knickknacks, made him feel like a bull in a china shop . The precise origin for this term has been lost; it was first recorded in Frederick Marryat's novel, Jacob Faithful (1834).
See also: bull, china, shop
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.

a bull in a china shop

If someone is like a a bull in a china shop, they say or do things too quickly and without considering them enough, and often upset people or damage things. In confrontational situations I am like a bull in a china shop. Although you must take charge of your life, you mustn't go at it like a bull in a china shop.
See also: bull, china, shop
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

bull in a china shop (like a)

Clumsy, awkward. There are numerous theories concerning the origin of this expression, which probably was not an actual break-in by a bull. One of Aesop’s fables concerns an ass in a potter’s shop, and Charles Funk long ago suggested that a nineteenth-century British cartoonist used this idea in caricaturing John Bull (symbol for England) and his awkward dealings with the China trade. The earliest use of the precise expression found so far is in Frederick Marryat’s novel Jacob Faithful (1834).
See also: bull, china, shop
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer

bull in a china shop

Clumsily destructive. An early written example of the expression appeared in Frederick Marryat's 1834 novel, Jacob Faithful , although the image of a bull wrecking havoc as he wandered among tables and shelves of fine porcelain can be traced a century earlier. The expression can also be found in several European languages, although the animal in question is an elephant. In 1940, an American press agent led a bull through a New York City china shop as a publicity stunt. The bull didn't break anything, but a bystander trying to avoid the bull backed into a table and caused the damage.
See also: bull, china, shop
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price
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