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boiling frog syndrome

The failure to accept, acknowledge, or act against a problematic situation that will gradually increase in severity until it reaches calamitous proportions. It is a metaphor taken from an anecdotal parable about boiling a frog, in which a frog placed in boiling water will immediately try to save itself, but one placed in cool water that is gradually brought to a boil will not notice the heat until it is boiled to death. Many environmentalists accuse naysayers of having boiling frog syndrome, not accepting that damage is being done until the earth is polluted beyond repair.
See also: boiling, frog, syndrome

China syndrome

A scenario in which a nuclear reactor meltdown in North America would theoretically melt a hole straight through the Earth to China (which is impossible). In more realistic usage, it describes such a meltdown reaching groundwater and forcing subsequent radioactive gases into the atmosphere. The latter scenario was used as the basis of a 1979 film of the same name starring Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda. While many advocate nuclear power as clean and safe, the risk of catastrophes such as China syndrome make me very nervous about its use.
See also: china, syndrome

Derangement Syndrome

informal What one is said to experience when they hear about someone or something that causes them extreme, almost irrational anger or frustration. The phrase is often applied to strong negative reactions to a specific politician, so a person's name often precedes "Derangement." The incendiary senator has engendered Tom Smith Derangement Syndrome among his detractors. Such is their rancor that just the sound of his voice is usually enough to send them into an apoplectic fit.
See also: syndrome

empty nest

A family home inhabited by parents after their children have grown up and departed. Many parents feel depressed when they are left in an empty nest.
See also: empty, nest

empty nest syndrome

Feelings of sadness or loneliness experienced by parents after all of their children have moved out of the home. Now that our youngest is away at college, my husband and I are going through empty nest syndrome. I thought I would enjoy having a quiet house again, but it actually makes me sad—I guess I'm suffering from empty nest syndrome.
See also: empty, nest, syndrome

failure to launch

A psychological difficulty or inability of a young person to transition successfully into being an independent, self-reliant adult. Often used in the phrase "failure to launch syndrome." We create a bit of a paradox for our kids. We want to do everything we can to ensure they are well provided for and have happy lives, but this level of pampering often leads to a failure to launch when they are old enough to leave the house and set off on their own. A: "Our daughter just doesn't want to do anything for herself. She doesn't want to go to college, won't look for a job, and has shown no interest in moving out of our house." B: "It sounds like classic failure to launch syndrome to me."
See also: failure, launch, to

floppy baby syndrome

Colloquial term for an abnormally limp posture in an infant lying prone due to an inability to maintain flexed ligaments or muscles. Also called "floppy infant syndrome." We were only made aware of our child's spinal muscular atrophy when she began showing signs of floppy baby syndrome.
See also: baby, floppy, syndrome

floppy infant syndrome

Colloquial term for an abnormally limp posture in an infant lying prone due to an inability to maintain flexed ligaments or muscles. Also called "floppy baby syndrome." We were only made aware of our child's spinal muscular atrophy when she began showing signs of floppy infant syndrome.
See also: floppy, syndrome

impostor syndrome

An experience characterized by persistent feelings of inadequacy and incompetence despite one's training or accolades to the contrary. It is typically accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud. The term is attributed to clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite the connotations of its name, "impostor syndrome" is not considered a mental illness. Despite having three degrees, I constantly worry that I will be exposed in the office as a fraud, so yeah, I guess you could say that I struggle with impostor syndrome.
See also: syndrome

not-invented-here syndrome

A prejudicial belief that products, systems, software, etc., that were not developed within a company or organization are not as suitable or well made as those that are created in-house. I think the boss's not-invented-here-syndrome stems from experiences he had using third-party software in his previous business, which apparently cost them thousands of dollars trying to implement.
See also: syndrome

Peter Pan syndrome

A psychological state or condition in which a grown person cannot or refuses to act like an adult; a stubborn and persistent immaturity found in an adult person. I seem cursed to only find men who have some damned Peter Pan syndrome. I'm tired of going out with guys who act like children!
See also: pan, peter, syndrome

phantom limb syndrome

Chronic pain that accompanies the sensation that an amputated limb is still present. If you continue to feel pain where your arm used to be, it's possible that you have phantom limb syndrome. Don't worry, this is not uncommon among amputees.
See also: limb, phantom, syndrome

QWERTY syndrome

The practice of continuing to use outdated or impractical technology when better options are available. The QWERTY keyboard, the standard keyboard on computers, was first introduced on 19th-century typewriters because typing too quickly on a typewriter would jam the keys. ("QWERTY" refers to the first six keys on the upper left side of the keyboard.) A: "They only continue to use this filing system because it's what they've always done, not because it's actually useful." B: "I know, management has a serious case of QWERTY syndrome."
See also: syndrome

revolving door syndrome

1. In psychiatry, a patient's pattern of repeated admissions to psychiatric facilities. Since Penny is back here yet again, we need to devise a different treatment plan for her, to try and stop this revolving door syndrome.
2. The behavior exhibited by adult children who can no longer afford to live on their own and thus return home to live with their parents. My son is living with me once again and, given his disinterest in steady employment, I doubt this revolving door syndrome will ever end!
See also: door, revolve, syndrome

Stockholm Syndrome

A psychological syndrome in which a hostage or kidnapped person begins to feel an emotional attachment or bond toward their captor. Named for a 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, Sweden, because the hostage expressed positive feelings for their captors, and negative feelings for the police, after being released. I think we've got a Stockholm Syndrome situation going on here. The hostages seem to be identifying with their captors. Patty Hearst is often mentioned in conjunction with Stockholm Syndrome, as she became sympathetic toward her captors following her 1974 kidnapping.
See also: syndrome

tall poppy syndrome

The tendency to criticize or otherwise speak negatively about one who has a lot of wealth, fame, or social prominence. In Australia, someone who is successful in this way is known as a "tall poppy," and the disparagement inherent to tall poppy syndrome seeks to cut the tall poppy down. Primarily heard in Australia, New Zealand. That star never flaunts her wealth or treats others with disrespect, so I don't know why the tall poppy syndrome is so glaring in media coverage about her. Now that I'm doing so well in school, I'm experiencing tall poppy syndrome with some jealous classmates.
See also: poppy, syndrome, tall

white coat syndrome

A form of hypertension characterized by an increase in blood pressure when a patient is around physicians or health professionals (who often wear white coats), likely resulting from an underlying anxiety. The doctors were puzzled by the patient's abnormally high blood pressure given the absence of other indicators, until the patient's wife informed them that her husband was terrified of doctors and hospitals. After that, they attributed the increased blood pressure to white coat syndrome.
See also: coat, syndrome, white
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

empty nest

The home of parents whose children have grown up and moved out. For example, Now that they had an empty nest, Jim and Jane opened a bed-and-breakfast. This expression, alluding to a nest from which baby birds have flown, gave rise to such related ones as empty-nester, for a parent whose children had moved out, and empty-nest syndrome, for the state of mind of parents whose children had left. [c. 1970]
See also: empty, nest
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.
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