have (got) a/the tiger by the tail

(redirected from one had a tiger by the tail)

have (got) a/the tiger by the tail

To be involved with someone or something that is powerful and could become troublesome or threatening. Now that I have to work so closely with the CEO on this project, I feel like I have a tiger by the tail. These investments are way too risky, but we've already got the tiger by the tail—if we try to bail out now, it could be disastrous.
See also: by, have, tail, tiger
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

have a tiger by the tail

 and have got a tiger by the tail; have a bear by the tail
Fig. to have become associated with something powerful and potentially dangerous; to have a very difficult problem to solve. You have a tiger by the tail. You bit off more than you could chew. You've had a bear by the tail ever since you agreed to finish that big project.
See also: by, have, tail, tiger
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

have (or catch) a tiger by the tail

= ride a tiger.
A similar difficulty confronts those who have a wolf by the ears (see wolf).
1979 Peter Driscoll Pangolin You're taking on an organization with reserves you know nothing about. How do you know you won't be catching a tiger by the tail?
See also: by, have, tail, tiger
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

have a tiger by the tail

tv. to have become associated with something powerful and potentially dangerous. (Have got can replace have.) You have a tiger by the tail. You bit off more than you could chew.
See also: by, have, tail, tiger
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

tiger by the tail, to have a

To take on something that turns out to be too formidable or difficult. This term, with its vivid image of manually catching a wild beast that rewards one with violent thrashing about (or worse), replaced the earlier catch a Tartar, used from 1663 to the late nineteenth century. Emma Lathen wrote, in Murder Without Icing (1972), “The Sloan Guaranty Trust . . . might well have a tiger by the tail,” alluding to an impossible investment.
See also: by, have, tiger, to
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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