Learn 20 Expressions Related to Setbacks

Navigating through life’s challenges often involves encountering various setbacks. This post explores 20 expressions that vividly capture these moments of delay and difficulty, helping you articulate and understand these experiences more profoundly.

1. Hit a snag

Meaning: Encounter a sudden obstacle
Example: They hit a snag while renovating the kitchen.

2. Back to square one

Meaning: Start over completely
Example: After the deal failed, it was back to square one.

3. Fall through the cracks

Meaning: Be overlooked or missed
Example: Her application fell through the cracks initially.

4. Go south

Meaning: Deteriorate or decline
Example: Their plans went south after the disagreement.

5. Come up against a brick wall

Meaning: Meet a strong barrier to progress
Example: He came up against a brick wall with his proposal.

6. Lose ground

Meaning: Move backward, lose progress
Example: She lost ground in her recovery last week.

7. At a standstill

Meaning: Completely stopped
Example: Traffic was at a standstill for hours.

8. Knock the wind out of

Meaning: Discourage greatly
Example: The rejection knocked the wind out of him.

9. Take a nosedive

Meaning: Decrease suddenly and sharply
Example: Stock prices took a nosedive yesterday.

10. Hit rock bottom

Meaning: Reach the lowest possible level
Example: He hit rock bottom before seeking help.

11. Throw a spanner in the works

Meaning: Disrupt or spoil a plan
Example: The sudden storm threw a spanner in the works.

12. Bite the dust

Meaning: Fail after effort
Example: Their startup bit the dust last year.

13. Bark up the wrong tree

Meaning: Misdirect one’s efforts
Example: He was barking up the wrong tree with his complaints.

14. Burn bridges

Meaning: Destroy relationships recklessly
Example: Quitting abruptly might burn bridges.

15. Miss the boat

Meaning: Lose an opportunity
Example: He missed the boat on that investment.

16. Go over like a lead balloon

Meaning: Be received poorly
Example: His joke went over like a lead balloon.

17. Spin one’s wheels

Meaning: Waste effort
Example: They were just spinning their wheels with that approach.

18. Get the short end of the stick

Meaning: Be treated unfairly
Example: She got the short end of the stick in that deal.

19. Add fuel to the fire

Meaning: Worsen a situation
Example: His comments added fuel to the fire.

20. Bite off more than one can chew

Meaning: Take on a task that is too big
Example: He bit off more than he could chew with that project.

Expressions Related to Setbacks