soft underbelly

soft underbelly

The part or portion of something that is the most vulnerable to attack, disruption, or failure. A reference to the underside of animals that have protective shells or spines on the back portions of their bodies. This crisis has exposed the soft underbelly of our government, which has clearly failed to put in place vital infrastructures at every level. The recent surge in espionage claims is revealing something of a soft underbelly of what has always been a delicate truce between the two countries. His extramarital affairs are the soft underbelly of his political campaign, which had portrayed him as a champion of the nuclear family.
See also: soft, underbelly
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

soft underbelly

The weakest, most vulnerable part of an organization, nation, or other body. The most probably source of the expression is a reference to animals like porcupines, which are well protected on their backs but not on their bellies. It was first used figuratively during World War II, when Sir Winston Churchill described the Allied invasion of Italy as an attack on the soft underbelly of the Axis. It later was extended to various vulnerabilities, as in “She was . . . sticking her knife . . . into the soft underbelly of capitalism” (John Campbell Crosby, Snake, 1977).
See also: soft, underbelly
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
She sets her debut in a Stateside theme park called Dreamworld, which draws upon Disney for its inspiration, and then sticks a knife in the soft underbelly of wholesome family fun.
Bray showed they are up for the battle but we're not and we're showing a bit of a soft underbelly.
The two blips on their season - a 4-2 defeat at Aston Villa and a 3-1 home loss to Chelsea - hint at an occasionally soft underbelly that Heskey and Zaki will try to exploit, so a draw looks the value bet.
The story revolves around Renton, Spud, Sick Boy, Tommy and Begbie, a bunch of losers, liars, psychos, thieves, and junkies raking out a desperate life for themselves from the soft underbelly of big city life in Scotland.
While I am reluctant to judge too harshly after one game, I feel our soft underbelly once again threatens to undo our prospects of success.
Mr Davies urged the anti-single currency campaign Business for Sterling to fill the Commission's usual fringe slot and added, "Frankly, I'm delighted that she is not blowing taxpayers' money to find the soft underbelly of the party.
Set in a word of devolution taken to extremes, Johnston's fourth outing works both as crime thriller and as a deliciously sly stab at the soft underbelly of political pomposity.
But with the Kangaroos opening against New Zealand tomorrow, Sheens (right) said: "I think New Zealand and Britain feel Petero is our soft underbelly, particularly with him not having played for a while.
But while the film rips through the soft underbelly of the eternal American Dream, how many cinemagoers will want to step into the slaughterhouse?
Boss Alain Perrin has demanded more aggression from his team, but injuries rather than a soft underbelly are to blame.
He made his first impact by removing threatening stroke-maker Habibul Bashar and exposed the soft underbelly of Bangladesh's line-up to link up impressively with left-arm spinner Ashley Giles.
But beneath that rough image is a soft underbelly with ballads such as We Have All The Time In The World.
MARK HUDSON fears Cardiff's season will go up in smoke unless they shed their soft underbelly.
Mowbray showed true grit to weather the post-Wembley flak and quietly went about ridding his team of that "soft underbelly" and bringing in talented players who were also willing to do the ugly side of the game.
Stuart Pearce's men are certainly capable of creating chances and scoring goals at this level - they showed that in a dynamic first 30 minutes against Italy - but they also possess a soft underbelly.