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How to be straight forward

how to be straight forward


8. something that is hard to do, understand, or surmount; impediment; obstacle.

[1350–1400; Middle English difficulte (< Anglo-French) < Latin difficultās =difficil(is) difficult + -tās -ty 2 ]


  1. As easy as buying a pair of solid leather shoes for ten dollars —Anon
  2. As easy as combing your hair with a broom —Anon
  3. As easy as doing one thing at a time and never putting off anything till tomorrow that could be done today —Baron Samuel von Puffendorf
  4. As easy as drawing a picture in water —Anon
  5. As easy as eating soup with a fork —Anon
  6. As easy as finding a two-bedroom apartment on Manhattan’s east side for $400 a month —Anon

This is the sort of topical and location-specific comparison that is adapted to the user’s own locale and economic conditions.

  • As easy as getting rid of cockroaches in a New York apartment —Anon
  • As easy as making an omelet without eggs —Anon

    A simile probably inspired by the proverb “One can’t expect to make an omelet without breaking eggs.”

  • As easy as passing a bull in a close —William Mcllvanney
  • As easy as roller skating on a collapsing sidewalk —Anon
  • As easy as running with a stitch in your side —Anon
  • As easy as trying to paint the wind —Anon
  • As easy as shaving with an axe —Anon
  • As easy as struggling through a waist-high layer of glue —Anon
  • As easy as taking a hair out of milk —Babylonian Talmud
  • As easy to ignore as a Salvation Army drum —William Mcllvanney
  • As easy to scare Jack Cady [character in novel] as to scare an oak tree —Speer Morgan
  • As easy as trying to load a thermometer with beads of quicksilver —Bill Pronzini
  • As easy as trying to nail a glob of mercury —Anon
  • As easy as trying to open an oyster without a knife —Anon
  • As easy as trying to participate in your own funeral —Anon
  • As easy as trying to read a book on the deck of a sinking ship —Anon
  • As easy as trying to unscramble an egg —Anon

    Another proverb that has become familiar is attributed to J. P. Morgan on the dissolution of the trusts in 1905: “You can’t unscramble eggs.”

  • As easy as wading in tar —Anon
  • As easy as walking on one leg —Anon
  • Chasing a dream, a dream no one else can see or understand, like running after a butterfly across an endless meadow, is extremely difficult —W. P. Kinsella
  • Controlling the bureaucracy is like nailing Jell-O to the wall —John F. Kennedy
  • Dealing with him is like dealing with a porcupine in heat —Anon

    The porcupine simile made by an anonymous White House reporter in 1986 referred to deputy chief Richard G. Darmon.

  • Demanding as a Dickens novel with a cast of hundreds —Ira Wood
  • Difficult as an elephant trying to pick up a pea —H. G. Wells
  • Difficult as climbing pinnacles of ice —Elinor Wylie
  • Difficult as driving a Daimler at top speed on a slick road —Barry Tuckwell, quoted in article by Barbara Jepson, Wall Street Journal, July 1, 1986
  • (Getting the truth in the New York Post has been as) difficult as finding a good hamburger in Albania —Paul Newman, New York Post, October 14, 1986

    The actor’s simile referred to the paper’s efforts to prove that he is only 5 foot 8 inches tall.

  • Difficult as getting a concession to put a merry-go-round on the front lawn of the White House —Kenneth L. Roberts

    As true and timely a simile today as when it originated in the early part of the twentieth century.

  • Difficult as making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear —Anon

    This can be traced to the German proverb “You cannot make a silk purse of a sow’s ear.” A less well-known French version substitutes velvet for the sow’s ear.

  • Difficult as making dreams come true —Anon
  • Difficult as putting a bandage on an eel —Anon
  • Difficult as to sell a ham to a kosher caterer —Elyse Sommer
  • Difficult as sighting a rifle in the dark with rain falling —Peter Greer, “Christian Science Monitor” radio program, December 31, 1985
  • Difficult as trying to draw blood from a turnip —French proverb
  • Difficult as trying to be old and young at the same time —German proverb

    Another proverb that has evolved into simile form, in this instance from “You cannot be old and young at the same time.”

  • Difficult as trying to run and sit still at the same time —Scotch proverb
  • Difficult … like trying to play the piano with boxing gloves —William H. Hallhan
  • Difficult … like swimming upstream in Jell-O —Loren D. Estleman
  • Difficult … like trying to grab a hold of Jell-O in quicksand —Philip K. Meyer, Eberstadt Fleming executive quoted in New York Times, July 25, 1986, on estimating an oilfield company’s earnings
  • Difficult … like walking a frisky, 220-pound dog —Henry D. Jacoby, on trying to manage crude oil prices in face of changing market conditions, New York Times, January 26, 1986
  • Difficult to absorb … like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose —Anon comment, television news program

    The comment was a response to Uranus probe, January 22, 1987.

  • Difficult to get as trying to get a pearl out of a lockjawed oyster —Robert Vinez, quoted in Wall Street Journal article on consumer campaign to get Ford to put air

    bags into all cars, July 3, 1986

    The difficulty in this instance involved getting the air bag out of Ford.

  • (Satiety is as) difficult to stomach as hunger —Stefan Zweig
  • Finding a decent, affordable apartment in New York is … like trying to recover a contact lens from a subway platform at rush hour —Michael de Courcy Hinds, New York Times, January 16, 1986
  • Getting information from him was like squeezing a third cup from a tea bag —Christopher Buckley
  • Hard as building a wall of sand —Marge Piercy
  • (It was) hard to do, but quick, like a painful inoculation —Judith Rascoe
  • Hard to lift as a dead elephant —Raymond Chandler
  • It [to get woman in story to admit feelings for lover] would be rather like breaking rocks —Laurie Colwin
  • Laborious as idleness —Louis IV
  • Life is not an easy thing to embrace, like trying to hug an elephant —Diane Wakoski
  • Lurching up those steep stairs was like climbing through a submarine —Scott Spencer
  • Not like making instant coffee —David Brierley

    In his novel, Skorpion’s Death, Brierly uses the comparison to describe the difficulty of learning how to fly.

  • A process that could be likened to trying to drain a swimming pool with a soda straw —Thomas J. Knudson, on project to reduce flooding of lake in Utah, New York Times, April 11, 1987
  • To get a cent out of this woman is like crossing the Red Sea dry-shod —Sholom Aleichem
  • Trying to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth —Alan Watts
  • Trying to get information out of Joe was like trying to drag a cat by its tail over a rug —F. van Wyck Mason
  • Trying to jump-start a business venture over breakfast is like working hard at going to sleep or devoting a year to falling in love —Anon participant at a business networking breakfast, New York Times/ Column One, Michael Winerif, February 17, 1987
  • Walking [while feeling dizzy] was like a journey up the down escalator —Madison Smart Bell
  • With effort, like rising out of deep water —Elizabeth Spencer
  • Difficulty

    a hair in the butter An American cowboy expression for a delicate or ticklish situation. The difficulty of picking a single hair out of butter makes this analogy appropriate.

    a hard nut to crack A poser, a puzzler, a stumper; a hard question, problem, or undertaking; a difficult person to deal with, a tough cookie; also a tough nut to crack .

    You will find Robert Morris a hard nut to crack. (James Payn, The Mystery of Mirbridge. 1888)

    hard row to hoe A difficult or uphill task, a long haul, a hard lot, a tough situation; also a long row to hoe. This American expression is an obvious reference to the dispiriting task of hoeing long rows in rocky terrain.

    I never opposed Andrew Jackson for the sake of popularity. I knew it was a hard row to hoe, but I stood up to the rack. (David Crockett, An Account of Col Crockett’s Tour to the North and down East. 1835)

    have one’s work cut out To be facing a difficult task; about to undertake a demanding responsibility of the sort that will test one’s abilities and resources to the utmost; to have one’s hands full. This common expression is a variation of the earlier cut out work for. meaning simply to prepare work for another, may have a sense that its origins in tailoring; it apparently carried no implications of excessiveness in quantity or difficulty. Perhaps it is the nature of superiors to be exceedingly demanding, or at least for underlings to assume so; in any event, when the expression “changed hands,” so to speak, it took on these added connotations, along with the frequent implication that the person who “has his work cut out for him” has more than he can capably manage.

    hold an eel by the tail To try to grasp something slippery and elusive; to try to control an unmanageable situation; to encounter or deal with a deceitful, unreliable person. In use since the early 16th century, this expression exemplifies what any angler knows: holding an eel by the tail is a near impossibility; the squirmy, twisting, slippery creature will wrench itself from the grasp of anyone who attempts the feat.

    He may possibly take an eel by the tail in marrying a wife. (Thomas Newte, A Tour in England and Scotland in 1785. 1791)

    hot potato A controversial question; an embarrassing situation. This familiar saying is of obvious origin.

    The Judge had been distressed when Johnny agreed to take the case, was amazed at first at the way he handled it—hot potato that it was. (Carson McCullers, Clock Without Hands. 1961)

    The term is often used in the expression drop like a hot potato. meaning to swiftly rid one-self of any unwanted thing or person.

    They dropped him like a hot potato when they learned that he had accepted a place on the Republican Committee of the State. (B. P. Moore, Perley’s Reminiscences. 1886)

    sticky wicket A difficult predicament; a perilous plight; an awkward situation requiring delicate, cool-headed treatment. This expression, primarily a British colloquialism, alludes to the sport of cricket and describes the tacky condition of the playing field near the wicket ‘goal’ after a rainstorm. Because of the sponginess and sluggishness of the ground, the ball does not roll and bounce as predictably as on a dry field, and the player must therefore adapt to the situation by being exceptionally accurate and careful. The phrase is often used in expressions such as bat on a sticky wicket, be on a sticky wicket .

    Category: Forex

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