Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

Words used to describe difficult situations - thesaurus

Synonyms

stormy

adjective

involving a lot of anger or arguments

acrimonious

adjective

an acrimonious situation is unpleasant because people feel angry towards each other

uneasy

adjective

an uneasy situation is not settled or calm, and it could quickly change and get worse

one thing after another

used for saying that you are very angry or upset because you have a lot of problems to deal with

in the wrong place at the wrong time

used for saying that something bad happened to someone because they were not lucky, not because they made a mistake

trouble is brewing (for)

used for saying that a difficult, dangerous, or violent situation is developing

(in) for it

used for saying that you are going to be in trouble because of something that you have done

it’s not someone’s day

used for saying that someone is having a lot of problems

out of the frying pan (and) into the fire

used for saying that someone who was in a bad situation is now in a worse situation

it never rains but it pours

used for saying that problems often seem to happen all at the same time. The American phrase is when it rains, it pours.

Show me more
Show me less

More synonyms

back where you started

in the same place or situation where you were before, without making any progress

be toast

to be going to have serious problems, for example because you will be severely punished

damned if you do, and damned if you don’t

used for saying that no action you take in a situation will produce a good result

the fat is in the fire

used for saying that something has happened that is going to cause a lot of trouble

the heat is on

used for saying that you are under a lot of pressure to do something

heavy

adjective

a heavy situation or relationship is serious and often not enjoyable

high-pressure

adjective

used for describing people or situations that make you feel forced to do something or forced to succeed

Houston, we have a problem

a way of telling someone that there is a problem

(just) one of those things

a situation or an event that you cannot prevent or change

the matter

noun

used for talking about problems or bad situations

nasty

adjective

a nasty situation is unpleasant or upsetting

the natives are getting/growing restless

used for saying that a group of people are getting impatient and may cause trouble if someone does not take action

not be out of the woods yet

used for saying that a situation is still difficult although it has improved

that’s done it

used when something goes wrong for saying that you are going to be in trouble

there’s trouble at t’mill

used for saying that a group of people or an organization are involved in a disagreement or a difficult situation

things have come to a pretty pass

used for saying that a situation has become very unpleasant, difficult, or unacceptable

unforeseen

adjective

an unforeseen situation, especially a problem, is one that you did not expect

unpleasant

adjective

used about situations in which people are angry or violent

when the chips are down

used for saying what happens when a situation becomes difficult or reaches an important point

you could cut the air/atmosphere with a knife

used for saying that a situation was difficult or embarrassing, because people were very angry or upset

BuzzWord

hygge

a lifestyle focussing on simple pleasures such as comfort and cosiness in the home, and spending time with friends and family

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

sofar

a form of location that involves the underwater detonation of a bomb which causes sound waves that are picked up by ships

add a word

Blog

A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play