a tiger by the tail

a tiger by the tail

Something or some situation that is too risky, overwhelming, or unsafe to abandon; that which is safer to continue than to quit. It is becoming increasingly obvious that we have caught a tiger by the tail with our military intervention in this region—it was foolish to get involved, but it would be catastrophic to leave now. I wouldn't go down the road of high-risk investments like those—you might end up with a tiger by the tail.
See also: by, tail, tiger

tiger by the tail

Something too difficult to manage or cope with, as in You know nothing about the commodities market; you'll end up catching a tiger by the tail . This colorful metaphor conjures up the image of grabbing a powerful but fierce animal by the tail, only to have it turn on one. [Second half of 1900s]
See also: by, tail, tiger
References in periodicals archive ?
Louisiana lawmakers grabbed a tiger by the tail when they passed a bill "exempting certain persons from the requirements of the big exotic cat rules." Specifically, it allows the owner of the Tiger Truck Stop outside Baton Rouge to keep his 14-year-old Bengal tiger, Tony, as a roadside attraction.