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poisoned chalice

Something that initially appears to be good, wholesome, or positive, but is really harmful. Primarily heard in UK. We thought the change in leadership was going to have a positive effect on the organization, but it turned out to be a poisoned chalice.
See also: chalice, poison
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

a poisoned chalice

mainly BRITISH
If you describe a job or an opportunity as a poisoned chalice, you mean that it seems at first to be very attractive but in time will probably cause failure or trouble. She claims that the president appointed his former rival only in the belief that he was giving him a poisoned chalice and that he would not last more than a year. The contract may yet prove to be a poisoned chalice. Note: A chalice is an old-fashioned cup or goblet, usually made of metal and shaped like a wine glass.
See also: chalice, poison
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

a poisoned chalice

something that is apparently desirable but likely to be damaging to the person to whom it is given.
1998 New Scientist Anyone who discovers a superconductor that works at room temperature may be handing the world a poisoned chalice…the material might be too toxic to be usable.
See also: chalice, poison
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

a poisoned ˈchalice

(especially British English) a thing which seems attractive when it is given to somebody but which soon becomes unpleasant: He inherited a poisoned chalice when he took over the job as union leader.
A chalice is a large cup for holding wine.
See also: chalice, poison
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
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References in periodicals archive ?
Ten Handled Gold Lustre Chalice, an earlier work by Wood lacks the subtlety she cultivated in her later chalices.
Owen Ramsden was a prolific supplier of church plate: chalices, patens and ciboria, alms dishes and crosiers, drawing on both Gothic and Romanesque styles.
The second-graders were proud of their charming chalices and wanted to learn more about the woman whose art had dazzled them.
The 179-year-old silver chalice was taken from St Michael's Church, Mullinahone, Co.
Actual laboratory testing of the communion wine before, during, and after the administration of the Lord's Supper was performed in 1894 by Forbes, through which he discovered that unused communion wine was "practically sterile" whereas the wine remaining in the chalice at the end of the church service contained, among other things, bacteria, mucus, and epithelial cells (3).
CUTLINE: A chalice similar to those stolen from St.
The chalices were stolen from Tullyallen Church, Co Louth, last January.
practice of placing one or more pitchers of wine on the altar before the consecration when Communion is to be distributed under both kinds, and then pouring that wine into chalices before Communion.
--Father Jerry Boland of Chicago, before opening a long-sealed vault at his parish that contained treasures including chalices, crowns, and gold-threaded vestments (Chicago Sun-Times, Dec.
Twenty-one items, including chalices, finger bowls and cruets, were brought to England by Jesuit priests fleeing the French revolution in 1793.
He said: "A colleague said when I became a member of the Corporate Body that I had been handed a poisoned chalice. It was several poisoned chalices."
SPECIAL CHALICES from which many people can sip from separate compartments around the rim.
Chalices, monstrances and papal processional crosses from the Pontifical Sacristy have never been on public display, but they and the other works included in Angels from the Vatican all share a motif in common: the depiction of angels by some of the most inspired artists of all time, truly the invisible made visible.
If we think about it, we are all part of a chorus line of Catholicism, which has always included body movement as part of its worship and sacraments: chalices being lifted up with all the grace and adoration of a male dancer hoisting a ballerina; babies being held out over the baptismal waters, suspended in air like miniature Gene Kellys; seminarians stretched prostrate along the sanctuary during ordination, the way a line of tap dancers falls to the floor in splits, only to rise again to applause.