Just like in the myth, a Pandora's box is something that immediately causes a lot of big, complex problems.
pan DORE uz BOX
Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one Pandora’s box or multiple Pandora’s boxes.)
It’s also a proper noun,
so you always capitalize the P in “Pandora’s,”
but there’s no need to capitalize the “b” in “box.”
How to use it:
You're probably familiar with the myth: once Pandora opens the box, all the human evils in the world (greed, vanity, etc.) fly out and cause problems. And she definitely did not expect that.
So you call something a Pandora's box when it has surprising, far-reaching, awful, complex consequences, and you can't just simply stuff everything back in the box and close it, so to speak--the damage is done as soon as you "open" it, meaning as soon as you open the topic for discussion, as soon as you take some action that you can't take back, as soon as you make some discovery that you can't ignore, etc.
Often you'll talk about opening a Pandora's box, keeping a Pandora's box closed, wondering if something might turn out to be a Pandora's box, and so on.
What might you call a Pandora's box? A decision, an action, an investigation, a discovery, a debate, a new rule or law, a purchase, a sale, a signed contract, and anything else that could turn out really, really poorly.
You can follow the phrase with "of:" a Pandora's box of humiliating information, a Pandora's box of lawsuits and media coverage, a Pandora's box of regrets and if's and maybe's, etc.
Add an adjective if you like: a legal Pandora's box, an emotional Pandora's box, a vicious Pandora's box, an indubitable Pandora's box, and so on.
Finally, you can take the metaphor a bit further and call something a key to Pandora's box: "Finding her boyfriend's list of online passwords was a key to a Pandora's box, and she wasn't sure she wanted to open it."
Moving to a faraway town you've never even visited before sounds like a Pandora's box--and for me it was--but there was plenty to learn and to enjoy about the experience, also.
With some of my friends, I assume that any serious political discussion would be a Pandora's box. I'll keep that lid tightly closed.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "Pandora's box" means when you can explain it without saying "source of troubles" or "issue causing problems."
Think of the last time you felt overwhelmed by problems, and fill in the blanks: "_____ turned out to be a Pandora's box of _____."
Example: "A water fountain for the kitties seemed like a great idea, but it turned out to be a Pandora's box of goopy messes, expensive filters and replacement parts, odd sounds emitting from it in the night, and guilt when I finally threw it out."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our October game references some material that may be protected by copyright. I appreciate your understanding as I err on the side of caution by not publishing it here!
A Point Well Made:
Alan W. Watts: “It seems that our life is all past and future, and that the present is nothing more than an infinitesimal hairline which divides them…[but] the reverse is true. It is rather the past and future which are the fleeting illusions, and the present which is eternally real.”
1. The opposite of PANDORA'S BOX is
2. Handled _____, _____ could actually be a Pandora's box.
A. unwisely .. lottery winnings
B. delicately .. a scholarship
C. carefully .. a decrease in income
Answers are below.
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Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
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