An important, and perhaps scandalous, question that requires an answer. If Fred lied about his alibi, then the burning question is: what is he trying to hide?
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
burning questionand the burning question
Fig. a question whose answer is of great interest to everyone; a question that needs very much to be answered, as a fire needs to be extinguished. There's a burning question that needs to be answered: Why did you leave your wife of only one month?
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
An urgent or crucial issue under heated discussion. For example, Real estate taxes are always a burning question for the town leaders. This term has exact equivalents in French ( question brûlante) and German ( brennende Frage). [Mid-1800s]
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.
burning question, the
A pressing, urgent, or crucial issue. The term comes from the nineteenth century and relates particularly to the discussion of important public issues. There are versions in French and German, but in English one of the best-known examples is Benjamin Disraeli’s use of it— “the burning question of the day”—in a speech in the House of Commons in 1873.
See also: burning
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer