To Open a Pandora’s Box
I’ve found an expression that annoys me more than “deja vu all over again.”
It’s “a box of Pandoras.”
Denmark has tumbled into a box of Pandoras.
Meryl may regret having opened this whole box of Pandoras (language site, discussion of the difference between “can” and “may”)
My, I do seem to have opened a can of worms (or a box of Pandoras) here. (the topic is the music of Chopin.)
In many places the expression is attributed to former governor of New Mexico Bruce King:
His [King’s] most famous malapropism, frequently repeated by legislators during floor debates, was the time King said that a legislative proposal would “open a whole box of Pandoras.” (Santa Fe-New Mexican, Nov. 14, 2009)
I’ve also seen it attributed to Casey Stengel, Al Gore, former Arkansas Governor Frank White, and former Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry.
Ideas about nature are famously malleable. Try to take just a peek, and Shazamm!–you have opened what Casey Stengal [sic] once called “A Box of Pandoras.” (excerpt at Amazon from a published book about Nature)
“We don’t want to open up a box of Pandoras.” — Vice-President Albert Gore, Jr. (comment at a site called TruckNet)
“We don’t want to open a box of Pandoras.” That was said by Marion Barry, the former mayor of Washington, D.C. He was referring to the Greek Pandoras’ Box. (a blog called Dahn Batchelor’s opinions)
As former Gov. Frank White of Arkansas once put it, the president thus “opened a whole box of Pandoras.” (article by Frank Perly at WashingtonTimes.com, May 18, 2010)
The expression to open a Pandora’s box has long been used to describe an act that may have unforeseen and unpleasant consequences. It derives from a Greek myth in which the woman Pandora, driven by curiosity, opens a jar (or a box) containing various human evils, unintentionally loosing them on the world.
The distortion “to open a box of Pandoras” may owe its galloping popularity to its similarity to “opening a can of worms.”
As a figurative expression, “opening a box of Pandoras” may have sounded amusing the first time it was used, but as an ongoing expression it gets old fast.
NOTE: the word “Pandora” on its own enjoys a huge popularity as a product name and in other contexts. Someone opening a delivery of electronic gadgets might have reason to declare that he was “opening a box of Pandoras.”
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