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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 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: something, sting
References in periodicals archive ?
The NPMA offers the following tips when dealing with stinging insects:
Before partaking in outdoor activities follow these strategies to minimize an encounter with stinging insects:
One area of a bee chromosome, perhaps just one gene, accounts for some 13 percent of the variance in stinging behavior, report Greg J.
But it's also the season that stinging insects - including yellowjackets, wasps and Africanized "killer" bees - are most active and aggressive, leading to an increased number of stings.
With so many people out hiking, camping or simply working outdoors, more than a few of us are bound to encounter a stinging or biting creature.
The stinging device, however, doesn't deliver venom by compression alone.
National Pest Management Association Offers Tips to Help Avoid Stinging Insects
Ventura bee keeper Bill Weinerth agreed that yellowjackets are less aggressive with humans than some stinging insects, but said that unlike honey bees, they have barbless stingers, which means they can sting repeatedly.
Stinging insects are most active in the summer and early fall when their nest populations exceed 60,000.
Of this last category, many people are familiar with hazards that various bugs can represent: the stinging of bees and wasps; the transmission of disease by ticks, flies, fleas and mosquitoes; the allergies caused by cockroaches and dust mites.
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.
There have been 17 stinging incidents in California, none resulting in death, since their arrival in October 1994.
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.