read the (hand)writing on the wall

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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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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