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A sensitive situation or controversial issue that is difficult to handle and thus gets passed from one person to the next (like a potato that is too hot to hold). The political candidate knew the issue was a hot potato, so he deferred to his chief of staff, who directed questions to the committee chairperson.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A problem so controversial and sensitive that it is risky to deal with. For example, Gun control is a political hot potato. This term, dating from the mid-1800s, alludes to the only slightly older expression drop like a hot potato, meaning "to abandon something or someone quickly" (lest one be burned). The idiom alludes to the fact that cooked potatoes retain considerable heat because they contain a lot of water.
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 hot potato
COMMON If a subject or problem is a hot potato, it is very difficult to deal with, especially because it is something that people argue about a lot. When she is faced with a political hot potato such tightening the gun laws, she is not afraid to give her opinion. Pricing policy is another hot potato.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a hot poˈtato(informal) a very sensitive matter that is difficult or embarrassing to deal with: His resignation is a political hot potato.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. a difficult problem. I sure don’t want to have to deal with that hot potato.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.