sting in the tail

sting in the tail

A disappointing ending to something, such as a story, that is otherwise upbeat and positive. The movie began as a sweet, romantic love story, so the tragic ending was an unexpected sting in the tail.
See also: sting, tail

a sting in the tail

BRITISH
COMMON If something such as a remark or a plan has a sting in the tail, it seems good at first but contains an unpleasant part at the end. Even the remark about Chomsky being `arguably the most important intellectual alive' had a sting in its tail. The sentence went on: `how can he write such nonsense about international affairs?' The increased tax rate was an unexpected sting in the tail in an otherwise acceptable Budget. Note: This is a reference to a scorpion, which is small and looks harmless, but has a poisonous sting in its tail.
See also: sting, tail