Idiom | A Hot Potato

Idiom | A Hot Potato

Idiom | A Hot Potato

The idiom ‘a hot potato’ means a subject or problem that people have very strong feelings about. Generally, it’s something controversial, sensitive, and/or will cause disagreements, so most people would rather not have to deal with the topic.

The idiom dates from the mid 1800s and come from an older term, ‘to drop like a hot potato.’ To drop like a hot potato means to abandon something quickly. If you have eaten a potato right out of the pot, you know how hot potatoes can get.

A hot potatoは人々が強い感情を抱いている議題もしくは問題のことをさします。


イディオムの起源は1800年代中期にさかのぼり、‘to drop like a hot potato’(すばやく捨てること)というより古い表現からきています。鍋からでたてのほくほくのポテトを食べたことがあるようでしたら、ポテトがどれぐらい熱々になるのかって想像できますよね。

Usage 使い方

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington & Naomi Idiom A Hot Potato
A Plate of Hot Potatoes (

A hot potato is a noun, and will usually follow the sentence’s subject and verb. Common verbs that are paired with this idiom are, ‘be,’ ‘have become,’ and ‘became.’

Subject + Verb + A Hot Potato

  • X is a hot potato.
  • X has become a hot potato.
  • X became a hot potato.

A hot potatoは名詞です。主語のあとに通常は続きます。

そしてこのイディオムとよく組み合わされる動詞はbe, have become, becameです。

  • X is a hot potato. Xは扱いにくい問題だ。
  • X has become a hot potato. Xは扱いにくい問題となってきた。
  • X became a hot potato. Xは扱いにくい問題となった。

Hot Potato Examples 例文

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington Idiom hot potato
Male Coworkers Excluding a Businesswoman (

Gender and sexism have become hot potatoes after Yoshirō Mori’s comment that women talk too much in meetings.


After Trump became the US president, immigration became a hot potato.


Do you think this issue is a hot potato?


Gun control is a political hot potato in the US.


Internet censorship is a hot potato in China.


My brother’s first marriage is a real hot potato in our family.


Use mnemonic! ニーモニックテクニック

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington Idiom hot potato
A Child Handing a Potato to an Adult (

Imagine somebody tossed a very hot potato to you. When you catch it, it starts burning your hands. So you don’t want to hold on it. You drop it and avoid it.

Of course, we always encourage you to create your own mnemonic device. It’s much more effect if you do that.

Check out our post on mnemonics basics to learn more.





Same, but different! 同じだけれども違う!

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington & Naomi - Idioms The Elephant in the Room
An Elephant in an Office (G. McGregor/

If you’re a fan of our page, you might have seen our post ‘the elephant in the room.’ They may seem like synonyms, as both are about controversial topics, but they are not. The difference between them is that a hot potato can be ignored or avoided, while the elephant in the room is too big to ignore.

私たちのページのファンでしたら、 ‘the elephant in the room’のページをご覧になったかもしれません。


a hot potatoは無視されたり避けられる問題である一方、the elephant in the roomは無視できないほどの大きな問題をさします。

Keep Studying

English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington & Naomi
English Stripped Bare Culture Page (G. McGregor/

Don’t stop learning now. Check out one of our other lessons in the follow categories and keep studying.


English Stripped Bare - B. Bearington & Naomi
Ready Steady Travel Homepage (G. McGregor/

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If you want to improve your cooking or learn a new recipe, you should explore our cooking website and discover more about cooking.

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