A fly in the ointment


      • unexpected problem or obstacle
        Describes a small issue or complication that can ruin or spoil an otherwise positive situation or plan.

      • source of annoyance or irritation
        Refers to a person or thing that causes frustration or discomfort in an otherwise pleasant situation.

    Examples of A fly in the ointment

    • Despite the success of the project, a fly in the ointment threatened to spoil the entire endeavor.

      This idiom is used to describe a small problem or obstacle that has the potential to ruin a seemingly perfect situation. In this example, the project is going well, but a minor issue, represented by the fly, could cause it to fail.A picture is worth a thousand words

    • The image spoke volumes without the need for any accompanying text.

      This idiom means that a single picture can convey a lot of information or meaning without the need for words. In this example, the picture is so powerful that it requires no explanation or additional text to convey its message.Bite the bullet

    • She gritted her teeth and bit the bullet, knowing that the painful procedure was necessary for her health.

      This idiom is used to describe taking a difficult or unpleasant action without hesitation or complaint. In this example, the person is bracing herself for a painful experience, but recognizes that it is necessary for her well-being.Break a leg

    • Before the performance, the actors received well-wishes from their colleagues, hoping they would break a leg.

      This idiom is used as a way to wish someone good luck, although the phrase may seem contradictory. The origin of this idiom is unclear, but it may have come from the belief that a superstitious audience would think that a performer who broke their leg was replaced by a more talented actor.Spill the beans

    • She accidentally spilled the beans about the surprise party, ruining the surprise for everyone.

      This idiom is used to describe revealing a secret or surprise that was meant to be kept hidden. In this example, the person unintentionally shared information that was supposed to be a surprise, ruining the element of surprise for everyone involved.


    This idiom is often used to express disappointment or frustration when something unexpected or unpleasant happens. It highlights the idea that even a small problem can have a big impact on an otherwise good situation.

    In some cases, this idiom can also be used to describe a person who is causing trouble or annoyance in a particular situation. It can be used to express irritation or frustration towards someone who is being a hindrance or causing trouble.

    Origin of "A fly in the ointment"

    The origin of this idiom can be traced back to the Bible, specifically in Ecclesiastes 10:1 which reads "Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour: so doth a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honour." This verse is a metaphor for how a small problem or mistake can ruin someone's reputation or good standing.

    Over time, the phrase "a fly in the ointment" was adopted into everyday language and is now used to describe any unexpected issue or annoyance that spoils a situation. The use of the word "ointment" is significant as it refers to a valuable or precious substance that is meant to bring healing or relief, highlighting the extent of the impact that a small problem can have. The use of "fly" further emphasizes the idea that even the smallest of creatures can cause significant issues.