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a can of worms

a can of worms

Date: Feb 07 2008

Themes: Pop Culture


1. Quote - Listen to the quote and guess what the slang means.

“It’s a can of worms. Big, fat, juicy worms, but worms.”

- Actress Pamela Anderson on her third divorce. (US Magazine)


1. Definition - Study the definition.

a bad situation; a problem with an unknown outcome

2. Use - Learn how the slang is used.

A can of worms is a big problem or something that could create a big problem. In America, there are no canned worms (at least, not at the grocery store, anyway). But, people open cans of worms all the time. That is to say, they make problems.

Pamela Anderson’s divorce is a can of worms, not only because divorces are always big problems, but also because she does not want to talk about it and she doesn’t want others to discuss it either. If there’s a topic you don’t want people to talk about, you could call it a can of worms.

Do you know what else comes in a linguistic can? Whoopass. When people say, “Don’t make me open a can of whoopass on you,” they mean “Don’t make me fight with you.” Whoopass comes from the verb, to whoop ass, which means to fight.

Do any slang terms come in a can in your language? What do you think English speakers should start canning next?


1. Examples - Hear some example sentences.

“He opened a can of worms today.”

“Let’s not talk about that. Don’t go opening a can of worms.”


1. Winners - See who guessed the slang definition correctly.

yuen88yuen something is so hard to deal with..like the worms in the can...
by yuen88yuen
a lot of big trouble
by chelsea1905
Panduola a source of unpredictable trouble and complexity
by Panduola
something really unpleasant, disgusting even
by if_i_refuse
siouxie She was refering to her failed marriage that made her life in haywire.
by siouxie
dearpesar a big broblem you dont want to talk about
by dearpesar
doom i think can of worms means : a very problematic situation
by doom
ElBeam It is something disgusting and unpleasing.
by ElBeam
Darlene difficult matters to deal with
by Darlene
jacob-iz It's a complicated or embarrassing matter.
by jacob-iz
donnadonna it`s kind of similar to what we call in my country "Pndora`s box"...one may expect the situation to be sorted out after "opening the can full of surprises"; instead, there`s nothing but grossy worms, so that they come to add even more problems to the already complicated situation..."high quality worms" they may be, indeed, as Pamela humourously refers to them as "big, fat , juicy", but it`s nothing but a literary method to help her emphasise the dramatic situation she is in.By that she simply means "it`s getting even worse"
by donnadonna
Droomek A complex unexpected problem or unsolvable dilemma
by Droomek
homyhoo the troublesome problem,unsolved problem
by homyhoo
trustmeok complicated problem
by trustmeok
Situation which is troublesome and complex with problems and she hate to talk about it.
by kaushalyats

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Log in to Comment



something I don’t want someboby to talk about

02:28 PM Feb 07 2008 |



Viet Nam

This is strange and fresh to me. Maybe cause I don’t know much about their culture, but it’s imaginable.

11:24 AM Feb 07 2008 |




Gimme sight!

11:18 AM Feb 07 2008 |




it´s a real problem anything we no want talk about, we want avoid.

10:25 AM Feb 07 2008 |




I never heard this words or phrases. I learnd it.

09:14 AM Feb 07 2008 |



disturb condition..

08:02 AM Feb 07 2008 |




07:00 AM Feb 07 2008 |




fantastic,in case of opening a can of worms,i should learn engliah harder

05:57 AM Feb 07 2008 |



Sri Lanka

A can of worms! I thought her life was an open book.

04:40 AM Feb 07 2008 |




It’s uesful!

03:30 AM Feb 07 2008 |




it’s qood

01:46 AM Feb 07 2008 |

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