when the balloon goes up

when the balloon goes up

When the situation becomes serious, critical, chaotic, or troublesome. Our analysts have been predicting a market crash for months now. If we don't get diversify our assets soon, we're going to be in serious trouble when the balloon goes up. My parents' relationship has been on the rocks for years. I just hope I'm out of the house when the balloon goes up.
See also: balloon, goes, up

when (or before) the balloon goes up

when (or before) the action or trouble starts. informal
The balloon alluded to is probably one released to mark the start of an event.
1959 Punch The international rules of war are apt to be waived when the balloon goes up.
See also: balloon, goes, up

when the balˈloon goes up

(informal) when the trouble or important event begins: I don’t want to be there when the balloon goes up.
See also: balloon, goes, up

when the balloon goes up

When some activity or enterprise begins. This expression dates from World War I, when the British artillery would send up a balloon to signal gunners along the line to begin firing. In time the term was extended to any undertaking, such as the opening of a store, the time a court session begins, and so on. John Braine used it in his novel Room at the Top (1957): “Merely because I let you give me a beery kiss in the Props Room, you think the balloon’s going up.” The term may be dying out, however, at least on this side of the Atlantic.
See also: balloon, goes, up
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