mare's nest

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mare's nest

A difficult, complicated, or confusing situation. The tax laws in this country are a mare's nest that nobody fully understands.
See also: nest

a mare's nest

a wonderful discovery which proves or will prove to be illusory.
A mare's nest is here being used to symbolize something that does not exist, as horses do not make nests. The phrase is first recorded in the late 16th century, as is the variant a horse's nest , although the latter is now no longer in use.
See also: nest

a ˈmare’s nest

1 an idea or a discovery that seems interesting and exciting but is found to be false or have no value: I fancy this will prove to be a mare’s nest! We have had these mysteries before.
A mare is a female horse or donkey. They do not make nests and so a mare’s nest does not exist.

2 a difficult or complicated situation; a mess: This area of the law is a veritable mare’s nest.My hair is a mare’s nest!
See also: nest
References in periodicals archive ?
A robust fellow in A Mare's Nest, 2000, becomes queen, clown, and martyr, done up in an elaborate wig/halo and ruffled "collar," a collage of Lilliputian architectural renderings, corporate logos, flora and fauna, and the int ertwined limbs of tiny wrestlers and bodybuilders.
I regard as a mare's nest the arguments for legalization.
It is now recognised that there was no such School of Night: it was just another mare's nest.
While politically its Somali mission is as important to the AU as its no less difficult peacekeeping efforts in Darfur, the reality is that the solution to this mare's nest of a conflict can only rest in the hands of Somalis themselves, though when and how that can be achieved is currently hard to envisage.
The legal and human rights mare's nest that is Gitmo was created by the Republican administration of George W.
There are some unnecessary mare's nests raised over the discussions leading up to Bretton Woods, in particular of official Canadian reactions to John Henry Williams's key currency proposals of July 1943--a nest that would not have existed if the author had remembered that the Canadian proposals for the post-war monetary system, called 'off White' by Keynes, were developed before Williams's proposals were published and were known to the British and Americans the previous month.