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a bridge too far
An act or plan whose ambition overreaches its capability, resulting in or potentially leading to difficulty or failure. Taken from the 1974 book A Bridge Too Far by Cornelius Ryan, which details the Allies' disastrous attempts to capture German-controlled bridges in the Netherlands during World War II. The multi-million-dollar purchase of the small startup proved a bridge too far for the social media company, as the added revenue couldn't make up for the cost in the end.
cross that bridge later
To deal with a problem, issue, or situation at another point in time. It is recommended especially when the issue is not problematic at the moment. A: "Users might not like having their personal data given to advertisers." B: "We'll cross that bridge later, let's just get the website up and running for now."
Don't cross that bridge till you come to it.
Do not needlessly worry yourself over concerns, problems, or difficulties that lie in the future. I'm not sure why you're so concerned about how to write a thesis for your degree—it's over a year away, so don't cross that bridge until you come to it! I know you're worried about the mortgage payment in January, but don't cross that bridge till you come to it.
be like painting the Forth Bridge
To be such an involved or time-consuming improvement process that it never truly ends. The phrase refers to Edinburgh's Forth Bridge, which once required constant upkeep. Primarily heard in UK. Remodeling our house was like painting the Forth Bridge—once we saw how nice one room looked, we had to redo another!
water under the bridge
A prior issue that is now resolved or considered resolved. That argument we had is just water under the bridge now—don't even worry about it.
bridge over (something)
To function as a bridge and connect two points. Don't worry, there are rocks bridging over the stream—we can cross there.
bridge the gap
1. Literally, to function as a bridge and connect two points. Don't worry, there are rocks bridging the gap up ahead—we can cross there.
2. To serve as a point of connection between disparate people or groups. I thought Senator Davis was working to bridge the gap between the parties on this controversial issue. A lingua franca is used to bridge the gap between people who do not speak the same language.
3. To alleviate the effects of a shortcoming, usually temporarily. I just need to borrow some money to bridge the gap until I get paid again.
To connect disparate people or groups. The senator was working to build bridges between the two parties on the contentious issue. A lingua franca is used to build bridges between people who do not speak the same language.
burn (one's) bridges
1. Literally, to destroy a bridge or path behind oneself, so that others cannot follow. This usage is often related to military action. When the troops retreated from the area, they were sure to burn their bridges behind them.
2. To do something that cannot be easily undone or reversed in the future (often because one has behaved offensively or unfavorably). I think you really burned your bridges when you announced you were quitting and proceeded to insult your boss in front of the whole staff. She's young, so I don't think she realizes that she'll be burning her bridges if she goes to work for their competitor.
burn (one's) bridges in front of (one)
To do something that is likely to cause problems later. That kid isn't bullying you, so if you tattle on him to the teacher, you're definitely burning your bridge in front of you.
cross a/that bridge before (one) comes to it
To be very concerned or make a decision about something that has not happened yet. Thanks to my anxiety, I often to cross a bridge before I come to it. A: "What if I don't get the job?" B: "They haven't called you yet either way, so don't cross that bridge before you come to it."
cross that bridge when (one) comes to it
To address something only when it actually happens or becomes an issue. A: "Do you know if that road is still closed?" B: "No, so I guess we'll have to cross that bridge when we come to it." The job interview is a week away, so I'm not worried about it yet—I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
water over the dam
A prior issue or unfortunate past event that is now considered resolved, settled, or forgotten about. That argument we had is just water over the dam now—don't even worry about it. A: "I'm so sorry for bringing up that thing with your father again!" B: "Don't be, that was a long time ago. It's water over the dam."
bridge over something
to make a bridge or passage over something. They bridged over each of the streams as they came to them. I think we can bridge over this little river in a few days if we work hard.
bridge the gap
1. Lit. to make a bridge that reaches across a space. The engineers decided to bridge the gap with a wooden structure.
2. Fig. to do or create something that will serve temporarily. We can bridge the gap with a few temporary employees.
burn one's bridges(behind one)
1. Lit. to cutoff the way back to where you came from, making it impossible to retreat. The army, which had burned its bridges behind it, couldn't go back. By blowing up the road, the spies had burned their bridges behind them.
2. Fig. to act unpleasantly in a situation that you are leaving, ensuring that you'll never be welcome to return. If you get mad and quit your job, you'll be burning your bridges behind you. No sense burning your bridges. Be polite and leave quietly.
3. Fig. to make decisions that cannot be changed in the future. If you drop out of school now, you'll be burning your bridges behind you. You're too young to burn your bridges that way.
burn one's bridges in front of (one)
Fig. to create future problems for oneself. (A play on burn one's bridges (behind one).) I made a mistake again. I always seem to burn my bridges in front of me. I accidentally insulted a math teacher whom I will have to take a course from next semester. I am burning my bridges in front of me.
cross a bridge before one comes to itand cross that bridge before one comes to it
Fig. to worry excessively about something before it happens. (Note the variations in the examples. See also cross that bridge when one comes to it.) There is no sense in crossing that bridge before you come to it. She's always crossing bridges before coming to them. She needs to learn to relax.
cross that bridge when one comes to it
Fig. to delay worrying about something that might happen until it actually does happen. (Usually used in the phrase, "Let's cross that bridge when we come to it," a way of telling someone not to worry about something that has not happened yet. Alan: Where will we stop tonight? Jane: At the next town. Alan: What if all the hotels are full? Jane: Let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
water over the damand water under the bridge
Fig. past and unchangeable events. Your quarrel with Lena is water over the dam; now you ought to concentrate on getting along with her. George and I were friends once, but that's all water under the bridge now.
burn one's bridges
Also, burn one's boats. Commit oneself to an irreversible course. For example, Denouncing one's boss in a written resignation means one has burned one's bridges, or Turning down one job before you have another amounts to burning your boats. Both versions of this idiom allude to ancient military tactics, when troops would cross a body of water and then burn the bridge or boats they had used both to prevent retreat and to foil a pursuing enemy. [Late 1800s] Also see cross the rubicon.
cross a bridge when one comes to it
Also, cross that bridge when you come to it. Deal with a situation when, and not before, it occurs. For example, If we can't sell the house-well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it. The ultimate origin of this proverb, a caution not to anticipate trouble and often put as don't cross a bridge till you come to it, has been lost. The earliest recorded use is in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Golden Legend (1851): "Don't cross the bridge till you come to it, is a proverb old and of excellent wit."
water over the dam
Also, water under the bridge. Something that is over and done with, especially an unfortunate occurrence. For example, Last year's problems with delivery are water over the dam, or Never mind that old quarrel; that's water under the bridge. These metaphoric phrases allude to water that has flowed over a spillway or under a bridge and thus is gone forever. The first term was first recorded in 1797; the variant dates from the late 1800s.
cross that bridge when you come to it
If you say I'll cross that bridge when I come to it, you mean that you will deal with a problem if it happens. `You can't make me talk to you.' — `No, but the police can.' — `I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.' Note: You can also say things like I haven't crossed that bridge yet or there are still some bridges to cross when you have not yet dealt with a particular problem. We have not crossed that bridge yet. We are trying to get the criminal case dealt with. There are still a few bridges to cross.
COMMON If you build bridges between groups of people, you do something to improve the relationship between them. It was our duty to help build bridges between the communities involved. We are looking for ways to build bridges between our two organizations. Note: You can call this process bridge-building. Do all you can to develop an open mind which allows bridge-building between you. Lovett took the initiative to arrange a bridge-building luncheon at which a compromise could be agreed.
burn your bridges
If you burn your bridges, you do something which forces you to continue with a particular course of action, and makes it impossible for you to return to an earlier situation. I didn't sell my house because I didn't know how long I would be here. I didn't want to burn all my bridges. She had burned her bridges behind her; she had called Mimi to tell her she couldn't take the job at the Foundation and she had accepted another job offer. Note: In British English, you can also say that you burn your boats. She decided to go to Glasgow to study for a degree in astronomy. Then, just before she started, she thought she might be burning her boats and so she did physics after all. Note: During invasions, Roman generals sometimes burned their boats or any bridges they had crossed, so that their soldiers could not retreat but were forced to fight on.
water under the bridgeBRITISH, AMERICAN or
water over the damAMERICAN
If you say that a bad experience is water under the bridge, you mean that it happened a long time ago and so you do not feel upset or worried about it now. He didn't treat me very well at the time but it's all water under the bridge now. Mr Bruce said that he was relieved it was over and that he regarded his time in jail as water under the bridge. Note: You can also say things such as a lot of water has gone under the bridge to mean that a lot of time has passed or a lot of things have happened since a bad experience. It's almost two years since it happened and a lot of water has gone under the bridge. We're now on speaking terms with Marcia.
cross that bridge when you come to itdeal with a problem when and if it arises.
1998 Spectator As to what would happen to the case for non-proliferation when the Cold War was won, the allies would cross that bridge when they came to it, which seemed at the time well beyond any foreseeable future.
paint the Forth Bridgeused to indicate that a task can never be completed.
The steel structure of the Forth Railway Bridge in Scotland has required continuous repainting: it is so long that once the painters reach one end, they have to begin again at the other.
water under the bridgeused to refer to events or situations in the past that are no longer to be regarded as important or a source of concern.
The related expression there's been a lot of water under the bridge since — is used to indicate that a lot of time has passed and a great many events have occurred since a particular event. A North American variant is water over the dam .
bridge the ˈgap (between A and B)(also bridge the ˈgulf (between A and B) less frequent) make it easier to move from one thing to another or for two groups to communicate with each other: The hostel helps to bridge the gap between prison and life on the outside.
build ˈbridges (between A and B/with somebody)if you build bridges between people who disagree on something or who do not like each other, you try to find ways to improve the relationship between them: The police are trying to build bridges with the local community. ▶ ˈbridge-building noun: The company has a lot of bridge-building to do with angry investors.
burn your ˈbridges(British English also burn your ˈboats) do something that makes it impossible for you to return to a previous situation: Once you sign this document, you’ll have burned your boats, and will have to go ahead with the sale. OPPOSITE: keep/leave (all) your options open
cross a ˌbridge when you ˈcome to it,
cross your ˌbridges when you ˈcome to themdeal with a problem only when it happens and not worry about it before then: ‘What will you do if you can’t afford to run your car next year?’ ‘I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.’
be like painting the Forth ˈBridge(British English) if a job is like painting the Forth Bridge, it is so big that by the time you get to the end you have to start at the beginning again: Cleaning a house this size is a bit like painting the Forth Bridge. As soon as I’ve finished it’s time to start again!
The Forth Bridge is a very big bridge over the river Forth in Edinburgh.
be (all) water under the ˈbridge(spoken) be an event, a mistake, etc. that has already happened and is now forgotten or no longer important: We had a terrible quarrel five years ago but that’s all water under the bridge.
burn (one's) bridges
To eliminate the possibility of return or retreat.
water under the bridge
A past occurrence, especially something unfortunate, that cannot be undone or rectified: All that is now just water under the bridge.