see the writing on the wall

see 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 seen 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 see the writing on the wall when one of their foolish plans is obviously about to crash and burn.
See also: on, see, wall

see the (hand)writing on the wall

Fig. to know that something is about to happen. If you don't improve your performance, they'll fire you. Can't you see the writing on the wall? I know I'll get fired. I can see the handwriting on the wall.
See also: on, see, wall, writing