An Accident Waiting To Happen

Meaning of Idiom ‘An Accident Waiting to Happen’

An accident waiting to happen is a dangerous situation that is certain to cause an accident or cause something to go wrong. This expression usually refers to negligence, carelessness, bad planning, wrong procedures, etc. 1Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010. 2McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002


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Usage

Although this idiom often refers to situations, a person who is habitually clumsy and careless in their actions might be referred to as ‘an accident waiting to happen.’

Examples of Use

“The main stretch of road I use to get to work is an accident waiting to happen. There are no red lights at the intersection and the people drive like maniacs.”

“My uncle Davey is an accident waiting to happen. He’s always working on project in his garage and he pays no attention to safety. He gets hurt at least once a week.”

Origin

Used since at least 1915.

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Sources   [ + ]

1. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
2. McCarthy, Michael. Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms. Cambridge University Press, 2002