pull the chestnuts out of the fire(redirected from pulled the chestnuts out of the fire)
pull the chestnuts out of the fire
old-fashioned To do the unpleasant or challenging tasks that someone else does not want to do. An allusion to the fable of a monkey using a cat's paw to get roasted chestnuts out of a fire so that it did not burn its own hand. The boss wouldn't expose himself to risk by attending an illicit meeting like that in person. I'm sure he'll send one of his lackeys to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for him. A: "We need someone to climb inside and realign the gears in the machine." B: "Let me guess—you want me to go in there to pull the chestnuts out of the fire, right?"
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
pull the chestnuts out of the fire, to
To do someone else’s dirty work. This term comes from an ancient fable in which a monkey, not wishing to burn its own fingers, persuades a cat to retrieve chestnuts that had fallen into the fire (whence also cat’s paw, for being made a dupe). Recounted in numerous early collections of fables (by La Fontaine, 1678, and Sir Roger L’Estrange, 1692, among others), it was transferred to any kind of dirty work by the eighteenth century.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer