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A challenge or hindrance that prevents something from being accomplished. Stay away from your old friends—their drug use will be a stumbling block in your recovery from alcoholism. We're trying to sell the house, but its undesirable location has proved to be a real stumbling block.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
Fig. something that prevents or obstructs progress. We'd like to buy that house, but the high price is a stumbling block. Jim's age is a stumbling block to getting another job. He's over sixty.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
A hindrance or obstacle, as in His lack of a degree is a real stumbling block to his advancement. This term originally meant "a tree stump over which one trips." Its figurative use dates from the early 1500s.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
a stumbling block
COMMON If you describe something as a stumbling block, you mean it is a problem which stops you from achieving something. It's her attitude that's the biggest stumbling block. Cost is a major stumbling block in the hunt for a vaccine. Note: This expression comes from the Bible: `...that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.' (Romans 14:13)
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
stumbling block, a
An obstacle; a hindrance to progress or understanding. Originally this expression literally signified an object over which one tripped. It so appears in the Bible: “Thou shalt not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind” (Leviticus 19:13). In the course of time it began to be used figuratively as well, and in the twentieth century it was turned into a maxim: “Let us turn stumbling-blocks into stepping-stones” (John R. Mott, ca. 1925).
See also: stumble
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer