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a (ticking) time bomb
A person, thing, or situation that can at any moment cause much havoc or result in a disastrous outcome. I'm telling you, this dirty money we're using to finance the campaign is a ticking time bomb! If anyone were to investigate how we got it, we'd all go to jail! Jenny's attracted to men who exude an air of danger, and her new boyfriend seems like a time bomb. A: "So somebody already gave the boss the bad news about the merger?" B: "Yep, he's basically a ticking time bomb at this point."
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
A situation that threatens to have disastrous consequences at some future time, as in That departmental dispute is a time bomb just waiting to go off. This term alludes to an explosive device that is set to go off at a specific time. [First half of 1900s]
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.