Open a can of worms

Definition

The phrase “open a can of worms” is a colloquialism used to describe a situation where a seemingly simple action or decision has the potential to open up a complicated and often contentious set of issues.

Examples

If I bring up the issue of salary, I’m afraid I’ll be opening a can of worms,

We should probably just stay quiet; we don’t want to open a can of worms.

Origin

The origin of the phrase is unknown, but it is thought to have originated in the United States in the middle of the 20th century.

FAQs

Question

What does “open a can of worms” mean?

Answer

It means to bring up a difficult or complicated subject that may lead to an unpredictable or difficult situation.

Question

Is this phrase used in other English-speaking countries?

Answer

Yes, the phrase is used in other English-speaking countries, including the UK and Canada.