read the (hand)writing on the wall

read the (hand)writing on the wall

To notice and interpret apparent signs or indications that something will or is about to happen in the future, especially something bad or unfortunate. The phrase comes from the Biblical story of Daniel, in which the prophet interprets some mysterious writing that a disembodied hand has inscribed on the palace wall, telling King Belshazzar that he will be overthrown. I've read the handwriting on the wall—the company is going under, and I'm not about to go down with it. As usual, the politicians are refusing to read the writing on the wall when one of their foolish plans is obviously about to crash and burn.
See also: on, read, wall

read the handwriting on the wall

Fig. to anticipate what is going to happen by observing small hints and clues. (See also see the (hand)writing on the wall.) I know I am going to be fired. I can read the handwriting on the wall. Can't you read the handwriting on the wall? Can't you see what they are planning?
See also: handwriting, on, read, wall