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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

take the sting out of (something)

To alleviate the pain or annoyance caused by something. Well, coming home to freshly baked cookies somewhat took the sting out of getting another parking ticket.
See also: of, out, sting, take

sting (one) to the quick

To deeply emotionally hurt or offend one. The comments stung me to the quick, but I remained composed and carried on with the lecture.
See also: quick, sting

sting (one) for (something)

To force one to pay a large amount of money, especially when that sum is surprising or seems unfair. The mechanic stung me for nearly $800 for various repairs when all I wanted him to do was change the oil. I was stung for a huge tax bill because of the money I won last summer.
See also: sting

sting someone for something

Sl. to cheat someone of a particular amount; to make someone pay for something. That guy stung me for twenty bucks! Toby was stung for the lunch bill.
See also: sting

sting someone with something

to use something to sting someone. The bee stung me with its stinger. The wasp can sting you with its poisonous barb.
See also: sting

take the sting out of

Lessen the severity or unpleasantness of something, as in That senior citizen discount took the sting out of the airfares. [Mid-1800s]
See also: of, out, sting, take

a sting in the tail

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

take the sting out of something

If something takes the sting out of an unpleasant situation, it makes it less unpleasant. His calmness surprised her and helped to take the sting out of her anger. One of the best ways to take the sting out of things is put a humorous angle on it.
See also: of, out, something, sting, take

sting in the tail

an unpleasant or problematic end to something.
1992 Ronald Wright Stolen Continents At last Hendrick came to the sting in the tail of his speech.
See also: sting, tail

a ˌsting in the ˈtail

(informal) an unpleasant feature that comes at the end of a story, an event, etc: Roald Dahl’s stories often have a sting in the tail; that’s why I like them.
See also: sting, tail

take the ˈsting out of something

(of a situation) take away the part that is unpleasant or dangerous: We can pay the electricity bill in monthly instalments if we want, which takes the sting out of it.
See also: of, out, something, sting, take

sting for

To charge someone some surprisingly large amount of money: The airline stung us for $100 to change our ticket.
See also: sting


1. tv. to cheat or swindle someone; to overcharge someone. That street merchant stung me, but good.
2. n. a well-planned scheme to entrap criminals. The sting came off without a hitch.
3. tv. to entrap and arrest someone. “We’ve been stung!” they hollered.

sting someone for something

tv. to cheat someone of a particular amount; to make someone pay for something. That guy stung me for twenty bucks!
See also: someone, something, sting
References in periodicals archive ?
Stay away from places where stinging insects are found, such as around flowers, garbage cans, picnic grounds, and other places food is kept.
The NPMA offers the following tips when dealing with stinging insects:
By tracing genetic markers from both the mild bees and the killers, researchers linked high stinging fury to particular genetic regions.
By the late summer, stinging insects colonies can contain upwards of 4,000 members," says Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA.
Although a "phobia" may seem to be an overreaction to what some consider nuisance pests, homeowners must recognize the health threats associated with stinging insects.
There is one queen accompanied by many thousands of non-reproductive workers who are willing to commit suicide on kamikaze flights by stinging in order to defend their home and bee brood.
Children should be taught not to disturb stinging insects and especially not to flail wildly at them; these insects use their stingers for defense, not procreation; they sting when they feel threatened.
We are accustomed to childhood encounters with Hymenoptera (bees, wasps, yellow jackets, hornets, stinging ants) as a natural consequence of children's curiosity and energetic exploration of their worlds.
to distribute SAFE SEA Suncare Products, the world's only Sunblock with "Jellyfish Sting Protective Lotion" that inhibits the stinging of most Jellyfish, Man-o-war, Sea Lice, Sea Nettle and Fire Corals.
They entered California in October 1994 and emergency agencies are preparing for a spate of stinging attacks similar to those that have occurred in Phoenix and Tucson.
Volunteers -- often from places like Wisconsin, Delaware, Michigan, Indiana and places other than Florida -- do not know that they are about to disturb the nests of these stinging creatures.
Unfortunately for some unlucky individuals that visual pleasure may be dangerous as well as beautiful, due to the swarms of small, buzzing creatures - honeybees, wasps, hornets and other stinging insects - that busy themselves with gathering nectar from those same fragrant blossoms that human noses like to sniff.
Two dozen volunteers bravely exposed their arms to jellyfish tentacles as part of a new Stanford University School of Medicine study to test a topical, over-the-counter cream designed to protect against stinging nettles.